Conductor William Hudson drew smooth, well-articulated phrasing and some fine woodwind and brass solos from the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra at its concert Saturday night at Fairfax High School.
The program opened with Carl Nielsen's "Helios" Overture, Op. 17, inspired, according to the composer, by a sunrise over the Aegean. It opens with a deep, low tone growling out of nothingness and then receding. The note repeats, horns are added (the opening horns had some trouble but recovered soon thereafter), and the orchestra builds to full sound. It is an interesting work that deserves another hearing, and was well served by the orchestra.
Pianist Marjorie Lee, soloist for Ravel's sprightly, jazz-inspired Concerto in G Major, played with exceptional facility and grace. In the atmospheric second movement, the extended English horn solo was beautifully wrought by Alice Hess. Accompanied by crystal clear ripples from the piano, it was one of the magical spots in this charming, accessible work.
The magic in Brahms' Third Symphony was in the phrasing of the strings and the section work by the brass and woodwinds, especially the woodwind chorus alternating with the strings in the third movement. But there was not enough passion and direction in the rise and fall of themes and phrases. Individual elements were nicely crafted, but the overall result was evenhanded and a little dull.