US Debut Cincinnati - Review
Written by Janelle Gelfand. June 7, 2011
[…]The second was the fine impression made by guest conductor Roberto Paternostro in his U.S. debut, leading a program of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms. […]
Also making a striking impression was Paternostro, a native of Vienna, Austria, who is currently artistic director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra. His mentors have included Christoph von Dohnanyi, and he was the assistant to the legendary Herbert von Karajan in Berlin.
Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture ("Fingal's Cave") glowed from the first note. The conductor cultivated a dark, mysterious sound while at the same time, encouraging lightness in the strings. He led warmly, and whipped up terrific energy in the moments evoking the sea's crashing waves.
The season is devoted to Schumann, who was represented by an Overture, "Hermann und Dorothea." The piece is based on a poem by Goethe, set during the French Revolution. Paternostro brought out its themes - which included the "Marseillaise" - with engaging character.
The musicians offered refined playing in these, as well as Brahms' Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 and 10, which formed the afternoon's first half. Clearly steeped in the Austro-German tradition, Paternostro displayed flair for these gypsy dances, and allowed his musicians to shine. One of the highlights was the improvisatory oboe duo in No. 3 (Lorraine Dorsey and Mark Ostoich).
The afternoon concluded with a rewarding performance of Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, "Scottish." There was something about Paternostro's warmth, clarity and natural musicality that proved irresistible. Lyrical themes were beautifully felt, and the conductor captured the atmospheric moods of this Scottish postcard.
The orchestra responded with inspired playing, and the performance was enhanced by stunning contributions by the horns and a winning clarinet solo by John Kurokawa. I'm not sure how the musicians kept up with Paternostro's very brisk tempo in the scherzo, but the effect was effervescent. Let's hope we hear more from this maestro.