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Violinist impressive in her Sch'dy Symphony debut


For The Daily Gazette Date: May 26, 2006 Section:D: Life & Arts
SCHENECTADY - The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra played to a hometown crowd Thursday night at Proctor's Theatre in its final concert of the season and featured the impressive debut of violinist Madalyn Parnas. As the winner of the 2005 League of the Schenectady Symphony Stefan Scholarship, Parnas didn't waste any time getting down to business in Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 2.

Parnas played with a big sound that was strongly edged, a sure bow arm and strong phrases.

The work was written by one of the 19th century's great violinists and therefore had more than enough fireworks to show what he could, or what any violinist should be able, to do.

Parnas, dressed in a long pale blue gown, was coolly poised through all the double stops, harmonics and fast scales. She showed a carefully controlled and well trained technique.

But she could spin out a pretty romantic melody when the brief slow movement allowed her time. She played the lines with much feeling.

The final movement with its gypsy flair had lots of zip.

Parnas knocked off all the hard licks easily. Her fast crossbowing and her forceful statements of the various motifs were equally impressive. Her cadenza was well paced.

Conductor Charles Schneider kept close eye contact with Parnas so balances and downbeats were well maintained.

The string sections, too, had their share of virtuosic demands and managed nicely.

There was concern among some of the musicians as to how well the orchestra would do with only three rehearsals of Brahms' Symphony No. 1. Even Schneider told the crowd he thought the symphony was an epic masterpiece.

No one needed to worry.

Everyone focused and dug in and played the four movements with feeling, good pitch, rich tones and listened well to each other. Schneider stuck to the score but generally set brisk tempos.

The strings were terrific in the long first movement.

The second movement featured some excellently played solos for the winds and concertmaster in some of Brahms' most inspired melodies and string part writing.

The third movement sailed along but in the final movement the train threatened to derail. The brass choir was tentative, there were wrong entrances and sections didn't gel. Somehow Schneider pulled it together.

The orchestra also played an energetic warmup of the Overture to "Consecration of the House" by Beethoven.

Bob Bour, president of the symphony's board also announced the winners of the 2006 Stefan Scholarship, Parnas' sister Cicely, a cellist, and of the Parillo Piano Competition, Minji Park.

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