Review: Minnesota Orchestra performs first full symphony in months at Orchestra Hall, with no audience

Posted on: December 1, 2020

“COVID testing, weeklong quarantines, face masks and an 8-foot extension of the platform to enable social distancing between the players. These are the exceptional measures required to make a Minnesota Orchestra concert happen in the coronavirus era,” writes Terry Blain in Wednesday’s (11/25) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). At Friday’s concert, “There was no audience present—the concert was broadcast live on TPT-MN, Minnesota Public Radio and the orchestra’s website…. There were things to celebrate, not least the orchestra’s first performance of a symphony since March. Social distancing math allowed only 42 players onstage [at Orchestra Hall], perfect for Beethoven’s First Symphony, led by the orchestra’s former associate conductor William Eddins, [who] elicited a performance that thrillingly combined trenchancy with a pronounced feeling for the music’s many moments of lyricism and lightness…. The hourlong program [also featured] a string quartet by U.K.-based Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga … played for all its worth by violinists Natsuki Kumagai and Catherine Schubilske, violist Gareth Zehngut and cellist Silver Ainomäe…. In Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, principal harp Marguerite Lynn Williams’s playing … was mellifluously measured and seductive, with principal flute Adam Kuenzel and clarinetist Timothy Zavadil among the cast of six supporting players.”