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Pianist Ax launches symphony with poetic power

  • David Hendricks

“To finish the concert, Lang-Lessing selected the perfect Beethoven symphony, the famous No. 5. For this night, nothing was held back. The orchestra played in full roar, especially to introduce the final movement. In the first movement, Lang-Lessing ordered a harrowing edge to the break-the-shackles theme. Bold French horn calls distinguished the third movement.

As the No. 5 drew near the end, the cellos and the basses combined to underscore the music’s firmament. From Julie Luker’s thrilling piccolo to the thundering basses, the orchestra pulled off a throw-your-hat-in-the-air finale.

The concert began with Beethoven’s Overture to “Egmont.” The musicians’ rich, full sound and Lang-Lessing’s exquisite phrasings led up to wonderful horn calls as the theme of unity and determination in the face of oppression formed fully.”

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Review: Cleopatra death rivets symphony audience

  • David Hendricks

“The orchestra was exceptional, under the baton of Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, in works by Maurice Ravel and Gershwin. Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin” was played with flair, delicacy and sweetness.”

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San Antonio Symphony delivers diamond-sharp Beethoven 9th

  • David Hendricks

“Although it was only three years since the orchestra last performed this popular work, it takes intense and efficient rehearsals to perform this work with such diamond clarity and beauty.

After the dramatic first movement, Lang-Lessing, conducting without a score, delivered a vivacious, brisk and sweeping scherzo. Jeff Garza on the horn, Paul Leuders on oboe and Peter Flamm on timpani were perfect in their exposed roles.
The moving and emotional adagio was relaxed and luxuriant, with horn player Adedeji Ogunfolu splendid in his solo.

The final movement exploded like a thunder clap before the cellos and basses took over as snippets of the previous movement’s themes were quoted. The music reflects Beethoven’s mental pursuit for perfection here as he rejects the previous themes until a new one appears.”

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Richard Strauss — a man of the theatre

  • Mike Greenberg

“Strauss, like Mozart, was a man of the theatre, and so is Mr. Lang-Lessing. There was dramatic point in every gesture and phrase of this performance of “Death and Transfiguration,” whose title pretty well sums up the narrative structure. The largo introduction was gorgeously shaped and alive, but it also fully expressed a sense of weariness and enervation that recalled the opening bars of the conductor’s remarkable account of the “Tristan und Isolde” prelude a few seasons ago.”

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Name that tune

  • Diane Windeler

“There was a deluge at the Tobin Center on June 5. The HEB Performance Hall was awash in sumptuous, lavishly orchestrated melody, courtesy of the San Antonio Symphony and maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing. Small wonder, given the agenda of Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” Suites I and 2, Aleksandr Borodin’s glistening “Polovtsian Dances” and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s cinematic “Scheherazade.”

If there were dissonances, even the briefest passing tone or minor second, they were essentially undiscernable. Well, there were a few in some of the angular material of “Rio Grande,” by Grammy award-winning composer Michael Daugherty (whose dramatic “Fire and Blood” violin concerto was performed here several years ago).The vividly evocative score about Texas was the last of 14 short works commissioned this season in honor of the orchestra’s 75th anniversary.”

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