Thursday, December 6, 2012 'Sarasota Orchestra Masterworks II concert with Conductor Thomas Wilkins'

 Thomas Wilkins

Maestro Thomas Wilkins wows another audience, in Sarasota, Florida:

Music Review

December 5, 2012
by: June LeBell | Contributing columnist
In my many years of interviewing famous classical musicians, I’ve never met an instrumentalist who didn’t want to be a singer. Thomas Wilkins, with his incredibly clear conducting style, turned the entire Sarasota Orchestra into singers this past weekend, and even the crummy acoustics of the Van Wezel couldn’t muddy this performance. 

Wilkins conducts music, not beats, and, in doing so, elicits a warm but transparent sound that is electrifying. 
In this weekend’s cleverly-aligned program of Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony (No. 41)” and “The Planets,” by Gustav Holst, Wilkins brought out more than the best from the Sarasota Orchestra, an ensemble that is positively blossoming as it gets to play under new people with new ideas. Together, Wilkins and the Sarasota musicians became a true Mozartean ensemble, expansive ­­— even in the brisk finale of the Jupiter ­— but never rushing and always breathing and singing through phrases. Much of their performance, especially in the second movement’s gorgeous Andante cantabile, reminded me of a great Mozart recitative and aria such as “Dove sono,” from “Le Nozze di Figaro,” sung by a greatly capacious soprano, molding phrases with arcs that are inherent but too often missed in Mozart. 
In this intense, visually popping, audibly exhilarating performance, just a few of the highlights included a brief but captivating euphonium solo in “Mars, the Bringer of War,” some masterful playing from concertmaster Daniel Jordan, cellist Abraham Feder and the great wind section of this ensemble throughout the piece. The majesty the orchestra and Wilkins brought to the famously flamboyant “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” was striking, particularly for the veddy British hymn that, in their hands, might transport the entire royal armada to the stars without a ripple. 

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