Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Features and More

Review: Florida Orchestra delivers symphonic ode to summer, spring

ST. PETERSBURG — What a strange, wonderful thing is Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Samuel Barber's setting of a prose poem by James Agee about a summer evening from a child's point of view. Indra Thomas was the soloist in the piece in a morning concert Friday by the Florida Orchestra, music director Stefan Sanderling conducting, at Mahaffey Theater.

Barber called Knoxville a "lyric rhapsody," and Thomas brought soaring, passionate engagement to Agee's stream-of-consciousness text, whose imagery combines wide-eyed wonder with banality, sometimes in the same sentence: "Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose." The soprano has a lovely lyric voice, and her enunciation in the conversational passages was clearly understandable, while her high-flying, ecstatic singing ("One is my mother, who is good for me") was thrillingly full and lustrous in tone.

Thomas, who would occasionally glance at the score in her hand, is an opera singer, and she acted the music dramatically to connect with listeners. The ending was extraordinary, as soprano and orchestra created a complex, mysterious atmosphere as twilight gave way to night, with a haunting oboe solo (by Katherine Young Steele) echoing Thomas in the child's lament that her mother and father "will not ever tell me who I am."

Incidentally, for more of Barber's amazing music, Sarasota Opera is staging his opera Vanessa, which has three performances through March 24.

Despite the summertime setting of Barber's song, Sanderling's program had a spring theme, opening with Copland's ballet score, Appalachian Spring, performed by 13-piece orchestra. Except for a smudged flute phrase early on, the solo work by the flute, clarinet and bassoon principals, Clay Ellerbroek, Brian Moorhead and Anthony Georgeson, respectively, was perfectly poised, and the hoedown fiddling was fun.

Schumann's Symphony No. 1, Spring, occupied the second half of the program, and it is the sort of repertoire that Sanderling excels in. The opening movement was especially well paced, taking on a propulsive momentum as it transitioned into the Allegro section, and the third movement was full of vigorous energy. Only in the finale did the narrative thread of the symphony start to wander a bit.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

Comments
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

TAMPASeldom have I paid such close attention to a restaurant closure, remodeling and reopening. Byblos Cafe began a major renovation last year, keeping the restaurant open as long as possible during the summer with some nifty temporary walls to shiel...
Published: 01/16/18

Hometown Pasco for Jan. 19

Hometown PascoHIGH FIVESPhoto A was deleted because we ran the same information in a religion story.Church presents Walk through Bethlehem: Photo: pashometown011918-B Courtesy of Brenda WelcherCLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONSWomen’s club donates to CARES: Pho...
Published: 01/16/18

Hometown Hernando for Jan. 19

Hometown HernandoHIGH FIVESBicyclist rides 100,000 miles: Photo: herhometown011918-A Courtesy of Jennifer HoustonCLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONSPledge leads to donation for Arc Nature Coast: Photo: herhometown011918-B Courtesy of Nancy Stubbs• • •People Help...
Published: 01/16/18
The 9 affordable buys that make every first home look expensive

The 9 affordable buys that make every first home look expensive

Whether you’re moving into your first apartment or a new rental, there’s always a myriad of things to consider. But perhaps the first and foremost is your budget. While your stylish eye wants all the designer pieces, your frugal purse is looking at t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

MIAMI — The idea seemed outlandish, maybe even impossible at the time: a one-man play about Miami’s infamous Cocaine Cowboys of the 1980s. Some 15 years ago, the Miami-raised Billy Corben was deep into research for what would become Coca...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/16/18

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Published: 01/15/18
Baseball coach Billy Reed lived a life of courage, integrity

Baseball coach Billy Reed lived a life of courage, integrity

TAMPAAs a teenager in the late 1940s, when Jim Crow remained the South’s two most notorious syllables, Billy Reed had to walk past Hillsborough High’s baseball field to get to all-black Middleton."Those (Hillsborough) students would hurl racial slurs...
Published: 01/13/18