Graceful melodies and lush harmonies permeated Emens Auditorium as the Muncie Symphony Orchestra performed its "Masters of Melody" concert Sunday afternoon.
The concert featured music by Russian masters Piotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Tchaikovsky's "Suite from Swan Lake," which comprised several pieces from his ballet that revolutionized the world of classical ballet, was one of the most notable sets.
"Swan Lake" was Tchaikovsky's first ballet, and audiences and dancers initially thought the music was "too symphonic." The dancers also thought the music, which was more complex than previous ballet music, drew attention away from them. Even with the early problems, "Swan Lake" has lasted and is one of Tchaikovsky's most beloved works.
Once the ensemble warmed up to it, MSO performed the suite well. The first few movements could have used more contrast, in both dynamics and tempo. Despite this, all of the soloists played beautifully.
The highlights were Elizabeth Richter's harp solos, which were elegant and brimming with emotion, and principal oboist Ferald Capps' gorgeous opening solo, which portrayed the mood of the piece perfectly.
One of my favorite aspects of Tchaikovsky's ballet music is the way he wrote it for dancing. As you hear the soaring melodies, you can easily visualize the dancers gracefully twirling and leaping across the stage.
MSO also performed Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Opus 27." This was a demonstration of romanticism at its finest. The symphony, which was more than an hour in length, showed the more expressive side of the orchestra.
Sweeping melodies and thick, lush harmonies ruled this piece. The orchestra played with true emotion, using sweeping crescendos and decrescendos to emphasize the swelling phrases.
Gentle, slow sections alternated with frenzied, fast sections to create a piece that demonstrated Rachmaninoff's mastery of the symphony.
The orchestra members looked like they were enjoying themselves on the stage and showed their enjoyment through a solid performance.