Due to what meteorologists have dubbed "the blizzard of '83," attendance at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall Sunday afternoon was sparse; to borrow a cliche', a lot of people came dressed as empty seats. However, those fortunate enough to excavate themselves from the mammoth snowfall were justly rewarded. The splendid musicianship of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of William Hudson, all but made one forget about the problems precipitated by the storm.
Opening with Samuel Barber's overture to "The School for Scandal," the players delivered an incandescent reading combining virtuosity with a painstaking elucidation of the rich harmonies and transparent orchestration. This is one of Barber's earliest works and its youthful brilliance is telling. Conductor Hudson elicited the glowing neo-romantic melodies with prepossessing flair.
For Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K. 297b, a reduced orchestra was joined by a quartet of soloists renowned for their contributions to the Philadelphia Orchestra. What this piece lacks in substance, it makes up for with charm in the lines entrusted to the woodwinds. Oboist John de Lancie deftly spun out his lyrical statements, interweaving with the countermelodies of clarinetist Donald Montanaro as the Fairfax strings reinforced and connected the theme and variations of the final movement.
The centerpiece of the program, the "Eroica" symphony by Beethoven, received a treatment of less than heroic proportions. Because of a conspicuous lack of string weight in the allegro, the sense of conquest vital to the score was missed. By the finale, Hudson marshaled a fuller ensemble sound, with the singing strings concluding the symphony on a triumphant note. --Charles McCardell