Oberlin Orchestra Fresher and More Polished than Ever

Meghan Farnsworth, Staff Writer

Under the direction of Raphael Jimenez, the orchestra presented a program featuring Silvestre Revueltas’s Sensemayáand Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 9.

Sensemaya?, the first piece on the program, begins with the deep, bottomless richness of the bass clarinet pulsating with sixteenth notes. After a few measures, a bassoon enters with an air of contrast to and friction with the bass clarinet’s drive. The rest of the work demonstrates swift changes in rhythm and, if articulated correctly, conveys an aura of ominous mystery and wonder, which progresses toward the piece’s culmination. This requires a solid sense of meter, and the orchestra’s ability to elicit this lethargic feel came as the ultimate surprise. This accomplishment, along with the orchestra’s polished uniformity in sound, execution and artistic intent, was refreshing to hear.

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 arrived with polished luster as well. The soloist, Darrett Adkins, Oberlin Conservatory faculty member, delivered a performance that displayed his naturally expressive, generous and powerful sound. The music of Shostakovich evokes feelings of intense emotional repression and angst overshadowed by spouts of militaristic spirit, and Adkins conveyed this ethos with expansive internal longing.

However, Adkins was not the only star illuminated in this performance. Displaying its new air of professionalism after the concerto’s finish, the orchestra also deserves to be commended. Jimenez, pointing toward instrumental sections with prominent solos throughout the concerto, stirred excitement in the audience, prompting listeners to abundant yelling and clapping.

The orchestra’s rendition of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 earns the orchestra further praise. During the symphony’s difficult third movement, labeled tempo presto, the orchestra maintained its sleek sound and execution.

With a fresh conductor and an orchestra on a new collective mission, Saturday’s performance should be held as a night to remember. The difficulty of the program was impressively executed, and the Oberlin Orchestra pulled it off like professionals.