Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: Happy Hour at the Symphony

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3.5 stars

With Steve Hackman conducting, ISO players had their sterling moments with a lyrically nuanced Allegretto movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 and the intellectually challenging Finale from Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 by Shostakovich.

Each work was given an unexpected reading making this audience member pay close attention during each piece's handling of repetitive notes and the heft of section playing against solos leading or undercutting the conversation.

The evening, nevertheless, belonged to Time For Three players, violinists Zach De Pue and Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer along with guests Matt Scarano on drums and Josh Fobare on keyboards. Their staged entrances on the continuing beat of Hackman's symphonic body percussive "Funky Enough" evoked a roar from the audience as they launched into Holmes' "7-29-04 The Day Of" from the 2004 crime comedy film "Ocean's Twelve" followed by Meyer's seriously fooling around "Soft Spoken."

The highlight was U2's "With or Without You" arrangement by Hackman and Time For Three. The song's defining sophistication built tensions and torment with Meyer taking on the original sustained guitar parts against contradictions swelling as external and internal breaking points from keyboard, strings, percussion and into the orchestra. The song's theme was beautifully evoked: loving is hard, yet harder still is surrendering ego in the process of earning love - and echoed on a personal scale Shoshtakovich's portrayal of conflict for all of humankind in a world filled with divisive loyalties.

The program closed with the feel of a spontaneous jam session bringing forth "The Stillness" [Hackman & Kendal], "The Stillness is the Move" [Longstreth, arr. Hackman and Time For Three], and "The Move" [Hackman, Kendal, Meyer]. The very large crowd on a very cold night was heartwarming for the ISO as it builds programming to "remove barriers between musical genres."

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