The Santa Barbara Symphony’s April Program featured the Northern European refinement of Pärt, Greig, and Sibelius in the most mature concert of the 2016/17 season, beginning with Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s contemporary Festina Lente for strings. Though it may be one of the more despondent orchastrations, the piece’s gorgeousness fosters an atmosphere of sentimentality and borrows a sound cultivated from traditional masterworks.
Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor utilized the talents of pianist Lilya Zilberstein, who approached the piece with mastery, demonstrating her own understanding of the composition and making accesible its grand schematics. Zilberstein’s sophistocated playing style complimented the symphony’s set of sharp technical skills and made an excellent paring in highlighting the influence of Norwegian folk music.
The evening came to a close with Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s ambitious Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, which contains all the tropes and distinctive tonalities that make Sibelius so identifiable, and recognizably ethereal. The piece was well-executed, containing broad musical gestures and repetitive intricacies from the strings, and employed the formiddable sound of the winds to perfection. Guest conductor Christian Arming delivered a concert of major metropolitan caliber, a testament to the quality of our own Santa Barbara Symphony.