Monday, May 14, 2012

Music I'm Listening To: Jean Ferrandis Joins the Santa Rosa Symphony (May 13, 2012)

I attended the Sunday, May 13 performance of a series of three concerts by the Santa Rosa Symphony conducted by Bruno Ferrandis, featuring the conductor's brother, Jean Ferrandis, on Flute. The program opened with Debussy's Jeux (poeme danse-ballet) for Orchestra. Ferrandis played the Mozart Flute Concerto No. 2 before intermission and Ibert's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra afterwards. The program ended with Ravel's La Valse (poeme chor√©ographique) for Orchestra.

I had not heard Debussy's Jeux [meaning "games" or "play"] before. I can't say I much cared for it--or this performance of it, anyway. Debussy wrote the piece for a ballet conceived and choreographed by Nijinsky (now lost, apparently). The dance involved play--both literal (tennis) and figurative (flirting, erotic pursuit)--among three dancers, two women and a man, although Nijinsky's original idea was to use three men. According to the program notes, Debussy (once he agreed to take the commission) became interested in "the rapid moments of tennis and in erotic games of flirtation, pursuit, resistance, and yielding" and he is said to have tried to capture some of the feelings of change and discontinuity that characterize both types of play. Not having the dancing to turn to, however, the music seemed to me merely fretful and disjointed.

The Mozart concerto was something of a disappointment as well. It was competently played, I suppose, but lacked any real sparkle. Ferrandis (the soloist) seemed not fully engaged. The flute sounded thin and distant. The whole came across as rather bland, despite Ferrandis's exaggeration of the dynamics (Ferrandis, the conductor, that is). The Ibert, however,was nicely done--played with verve and enthusiasm. I got the feeling that Jean Ferrandis was much more in his element playing a modern French piece than playing the Mozart. Following the Ibert concerto, which the audience received with rather more enthusiasm than it did the first half of the program, Jean played an encore, which sounded like something from Debusy's Prelude to The Afternoon of  a Faun.

The Ravel was enjoyable but not wholly satisfying either. Ferrandis, the conductor, failed (in my opinion) to fully exploit the internal contrasts of the piece and he took the ending at what seemed an unnecessarily rapid and accelerating tempo.

Yesterday will have been my last concert in the Luther Burbank Center (or the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts as they insist on calling it). The Santa Rosa Symphony will start next season as the resident orchestra at the new Green Music Center. I very much look forward to hearing the new hall.

Photo of Jean Ferrandis (uncredited), from the Santa Rosa Symphony website. 

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