Thursday, April 19, 2018
Stage

Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer shines as soloist

TAMPA — Every year, some of the world's best violinists play on our stages. This year, young sensations Simone Porter and Benjamin Beilman wowed Florida Orchestra audiences. Early next year, Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman pass through the bay area.

Most of the time, Jeffrey Multer has been content to play a supporting role, albeit as the Florida Orchestra's most recognizable face. As concertmaster, it's Multer's job to stand before concerts and play a single A-note on his violin, which helps the other musicians tune their instruments. Then he sits on the edge of the first chair to the conductor's left and attacks the score in an almost physical way, as if slipping punches.

It's hard to listen to the biggest names and not wonder, on occasion, how Multer, an accomplished violinist with a national reputation, would fare if given the same workload.

On Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, he gave us an answer, soloing in Beethoven's Violin Concerto. The combination of the music, some of the composer's most lyrical, and the event itself created a moment you won't often see. Multer showed the precision and expression that has distinguished his career, which has included playing in a quartet named the best classical music event of 2003 by the Washington Post.

Appropriately in this case, the concerto form of alternating sequences by the soloist and the ensemble was advanced by Beethoven to include passages in which both elements play very much together. The first movement started quietly, then introduced the violin to lead the melody and foreshadow a steep climb to the instruments' highest registers.

A few times in the concerto, notably toward the end of the first movement, Multer alone plays cadenzas he wrote himself. These are ornamental passages that allow musicians to improvise on the composer's themes. Multer's cadenzas are reverent and true to the score, always pointing toward the composer and away from himself.

A tranquil second movement (characterized by what one musicologist called a "sublime inaction") gives way to the brisk waltzlike allegro in the third. The finale closed with a rush, and a full house at Ferguson Hall quickly stood to applaud, as did orchestra members themselves. Multer smiled broadly and accepted a hug from guest conductor Joshua Weilerstein.

The other piece, Dmitri Shostakovich's introspective Symphony No. 10, was a deep and engaging rendering of the composer's tumultuous inner life. After the hostile reception by Joseph Stalin of Shostakovich's ninth symphony, which was supposed to celebrate the Soviet triumph following World War II, the composer was banished and rejected. From 1948 to 1953, he composed film scores, which might help explain why the cinematic sweep with the lower strings at the start of the first movement is so powerful.

The opening movement builds as different sections each underscore an ominous intent, from a doleful clarinet solo to growling basses and piercing flute. The orchestra conveyed fully the theme, which is that some revelation is coming and it's not going to be pretty.

A brief second movement, a furious explosion of a military march, was said to be a portrait of Stalin, explaining the apprehension of the previous movement. The third movement, full of intentional uncertainty, contains the composer's musical "signature," a four-note sequence using English and German musical notation to spell out "D-S-C-H" (or D-E flat-C-B), initials hinting at his name. The symphony's final movement wraps up with a restatement of earlier themes, a kind of determination to survive, if not to be satisfied or happy. The symphony offers brief opportunities for musicians to solo. That included associate concertmaster Nancy Chang, who played first-chair violin. Multer was backstage for the Shostakovich, taking a well deserved rest.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18
Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

TAMPA — Tampa made its cigars with indispensable help from Cuban immigrants. Today, 22 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin, as defined by the U.S. Census. The Tampa Bay area has increasingly and proudly defined itself as a thriving perfor...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

The murder mystery/thriller I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is loaded with potential. Playwright Peter Colley’s spooky, sometimes creepy, script has lots of surprises, scary moments and a few jokes to break the tension.And the production at Stage West C...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Review: ‘Menopause the Musical’ brings the heat to Show Palace in Hudson

For years, Show Palace Dinner Theatre patrons have begged owners Vicki and Tommy Marasciullo to bring Menopause the Musical to their Hudson venue. To be sure, the longtime showbiz couple wanted to, and the 400+ sold-out crowd opening night, followed ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

NEW PORT RICHEY — A collaborative agreement between CARES (Community Aging and Retirement Services) and local entertainer Jimmy Ferraro will bring Jimmy Ferraro’s Dessert Theatre, a series of monthly variety shows, to the CARES Elfers Center stage, 4...
Published: 04/16/18
New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

TAMPA — Last year’s lavish 100th birthday party for composer and conductor Anton Coppola might have seemed like the capstone of a long career in opera. Turns out that Opera Tampa’s co-founder was not finished. The maestro’s latest opera, Lady Swanwhi...
Published: 04/14/18