Symphony Orchestra crescendos into season

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra concert, held in Wadsworth Auditorium Sunday Oct. 14 at 3 p.m., featured pieces by Gioacchino Rossini, Édouard Lalo, Edvard Grieg and Sergei Prokofiev.

The orchestra demonstrated its professionalism in dress, manner and ability of each section to play in unison while standing independent of one another. The performance was passionate with very few errors. The orchestra – composed of students and music faculty – is well-balanced with no overwhelming or underwhelming sections.

The concert focused on pieces from the romantic period, providing pleasant, melodious music for nearly the entire concert. Prokofiev’s Concerto in D-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra brought some heavy dissonance into the mix to shake things up. The conductor used the silences and quiet sections of the pieces well, so the concert wasn’t an overpowering hodgepodge of sound and the louder, more dynamic pieces stood out.

Soloists senior Hannah Garfield on violin, and professor and Chair of the Department of Music Jonathan Gonder, on piano, gave strong performances. Garfield’s solo was part of Intermezzo from Symphonie Espagnole Op. 21. Stunning in attire and attitude, Garfield’s performance was moving and intricate as she led the orchestra.

Gonder stole the concerto with his flawless piano performance. The part was difficult and fast and almost completely independent of the orchestra in rhythm, sound and time. Prokofiev’s style was dissonant, but it was clear that the orchestra and Gonder played the complex piece expertly.

Other highlights included the whimsical xylophone in the concerto, the chilling decrescendo at the end of “The Death of Ase” by Grieg and the conversation between wind and string sections during the Intermezzo from Symphonie Espagnol Op. 21 and between violin and cello/bass sections during Grieg’s “Peer Gynt’s Homecoming.”

The orchestra’s best pieces were from Grieg’s set of incidental music “Peer Gynt.” “Morning Mood,” the first in the set of five, was sweet, soft and enrapturing. “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” the last of the set, was incredibly powerful. The orchestra built by adding section upon section, growing in strength and speed to a strong and thrilling finish.