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Viva Italia, Eddins and Dindo

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Oct 7, 2007 - 12:00:00 AM in reviews_2007

Conductor William Eddins

When the history of 20th-century music is written, it likely will confirm that some of its greatest scores were written for motion pictures.
   Composers like Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Copland and Bernstein wrote enduring music for film, and many who spent most of their careers doing so, like Eric Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, John Williams and Bernard Herrmann, created a body of music that is treasured independently of the silver
   Italian composer Nino Rota (1911-79), a favorite of director Federico Fellini ("8½," "La Strada") who also wrote for "Zeffirelli ("Romeo and Juliet") and
Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather"), is one of them. Happily, guest conductor William Eddins brought his Symphony No. 2, "Anni di pellegrinaggio --
Tarantina," to Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony audience at Music Hall. A kind of travelogue/tribute to the years the composer spent in Taranto in
southern Italy (named for the resident tarantula spider), it was a CSO premiere.
   Eddins, music director of Canada's Edmonton Symphony, also brought Respighi and Rossini, giving the evening a warm Italianate cast. The Respighi was not one of his popular tone poems like the overplayed "Pines of Rome," but his exquisite Adagio con variazioni for Cello and Orchestra
(1921), also a CSO premiere.
   Guest artist in the Respighi and in Haydn's Concerto in C Major (Hob. VIIb:1) was Italian cellist Enrico Dindo in a most impressive CSO debut.
   All of this newness was not lost on the CSO audience, which registered its appreciation for conductor and soloist both visibly and audibly. Sadly, their
numbers looked pitifully small, less than 1,000 by my guestimate.  Whatever the reason - and the audience for some of the choicest symphonic programs is
going to be small by the very nature of the art form --all the more reason to stop dallying about downsizing 3,516-seat Music Hall, where a sellout at most
American concert halls would still not begin to fill it.
   What this receptive audience came to hear included not only some deserving "new" music, but a dynamic conductor and a cellist of formidable abilities.
   Eddins, 43, is one of the few CSO guests who routinely gets the most out of the players. The CSO sounded sleek, disciplined and wholly attentive to his
wishes, from the opening drum roll of Rossini's "La gazza ladra" ("The Thieving Magpie") Overture to the last flourish of the Rota. Eddins gets excited when
he conducts, sometimes putting a kick into it (literally). But conductors who get excited and know what they are doing (as Eddins does) get the orchestra and
the audience excited, too.
Enrico Dindo

Dindo, 42, was amazing in the Haydn Concerto, both musically and technically. He put a swagger into the opening chord, following it up with smooth broad strokes and stunning facility as he scampered up and down the fingerboard. The tone he spun from his 1717 Pietro Giacomo Rogeri cello was like angel hair in the Adagio. He saved the real fireworks for the Allegro molto finale -- a little too molto for my taste, for it seemed to detract from the music -- though it wowed the audience quite justifiably.
   Respighi's Adagio, perhaps a slow movement for a concerto he never completed, was lush and extremely moving. There was superb dialogue with the CSO, and Dindo soared into the violin range at the end against billowing harp accompaniment.
   Rota's Symphony, though a semi-precious stone at best, got a fine presentation by Eddins and the CSO.  Faraway sounding at the outset, the first movement waxed quite cinematic, with the trumpet soaring high above the orchestra at one point. The second movement, a perky tarantella (a dance supposed to ride the body of the poison of the forenamed spider), it includes a contrasting second theme which pulsed with romance.
   The Andante, a solemn, "churchy" movement, opened with dark, chocolatey lower strings and dusky bassoons, building in stately fashion to open cadences, then falling peaceful at the end.
   Eddins poured sunlight into the playful finale, whose kinetic energy burst repeatedly into pealing descending chords, sealing the concert on a joyful note.
   The concert repeats at 8 tonight at Music Hall. Tickets are
half-price from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the CSO box office in Music Hall.

(first published in The Cincinnati Post Oct. 6, 2007)