kalmar, prokofiev earthshaking

This past Friday, the St. Louis area was awakened by the shaking of a 5.2 magnitude earthquake.  That evening the St. Louis Symphony was led by OSO music director Carlos Kalmar in a performance that included the Fifth Symphony of Sergei Prokofiev.  According to this review and other accounts, this may have been an aftershock of its own.

Friday in St. Louis began with the tremors and aftershocks of an earthquake, and ended with an incandescent performance that shook the stage of Powell Symphony Hall.

The first half of Friday night’s concert by guest conductor Carlos Kalmar and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was fine. The second half was remarkable: What a difference the right repertoire in the right hands can make to a concert.

That second half consisted of an incandescent performance of Serge Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, op. 100. Written during the waning days of World War II, the Symphony No. 5 is a symphonic masterpiece. This score has it all, from moments of big, sweeping grandeur to light humor, from passages of savage jeering to outright lyricism.

Kalmar and the orchestra invested it with a sense of excitement beyond that inherent in the score. Kalmar was fun to watch, with a leonine head of hair that moved dramatically as he danced around the podium, and angular body language perfectly matched to Prokofiev’s rhythmic world.

Read the complete review here.