Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Florida Orchestra plays Tchaikovsky's 'Pathétique' with great passion

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 is easy to mess up. It sounds sloppy when performed by a subpar orchestra. The melodic themes can seem rambling if not played with care and expression.

Although the French title Pathétique (generally meaning "pathetic") has been used for the symphony since it was published, the Russian equivalent of the title would actually be translated to "passionate" or "emotional." And a passionate performance is exactly what the audience at the Straz Center heard on Friday when the Florida Orchestra played this masterpiece.

Every movement of the symphony was brought to life in fascinating color. Every melody, especially the popular one that opens the second movement, had shape and momentum. Guest conductor Cristian Macelaru was positively entertaining to watch. And it was obvious that he cared very deeply about the work.

Before they played the symphony, he talked about the audience's role. The third movement is actually the most exciting of the four and ends with great thrill. Most audiences are tempted to clap, but Macelaru pleaded this once to resist in order to experience the work as Tchaikovsky intended — with a moment of silence before the lamentoso finale. He then followed that up with a dramatic cutoff gesture for the third movement that seemed more for the audience than for the orchestra.

Tchaikovsky was more proud of this symphony than any of his other works. Even though he seemed happy in all of his correspondences at the time, he was dealing with a significant amount of stress. Several of his close friends died while writing the symphony and he had a pending legal case against him on a charge of homosexuality. This combined with the fact that he died nine days after its premiere has lead many musicologists to believe the symphony was a musical suicide note, even though he most likely died from cholera contracted by drinking a glass of water that he supposedly didn't know was unboiled.

Before intermission, all of the deep emotions conveyed by the orchestra's performance of the Tchaikovsky were simply not present. The neoclassical Stravinsky ballet Jeu de Cartes was thought-provoking and incredibly precise, though, especially under the baton of Macelaru.

The Concierto Barroco for guitar and orchestra by Roberto Sierra was about the same, except perhaps lacking a bit of precision. Guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco was brilliant on his part, but the piece itself is not a grand showpiece. It comes across in dreamlike episodes, some sounding contemporary and some like they were written in the Baroque period. And if the goal is to reimagine the story of the novel on which it was based, then that was certainly achieved by the performance.

If you go

Florida Orchestra

The orchestra repeats the performance at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

.If you go

Florida Orchestra

The orchestra repeats the performance at 7:30 p.m. today at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

. If you go

Florida Orchestra

The orchestra repeats the performance at 7:30 p.m. today at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

Review: Florida Orchestra plays Tchaikovsky's 'Pathétique' with great passion 05/17/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 17, 2014 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 20

    Events

    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 19

    Events

    Monster Jam Triple Threat Series: Come early for the Pit Party ($15 or free at local Ford dealers) to meet the drivers and get pictures with the trucks. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $15-$80. (813) 301-2500.

    A crew member from the El Toro Loco monster truck, installs a truck tire, Thursday, 8/17/17 in preparation for Saturday's  Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at Amalie Arena, Tampa. The event will be held Saturday at 1pm and 7 pm.
  4. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  5. At 'American Idol' auditions in Orlando, there are life lessons in line

    Music & Concerts

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — From her spot across the lawn, Sasha Orihuela studies her son.

    Jeremy Joshua Dorsey reacts after past American Idol contestants walk by ahead of his audition at the Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017. 

Hundreds of people showed up for the first auditions for ABC's reboot of 'American Idol'. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times