Walter Waugaman
These excerpts from David Patrick Stearns' review in the Philadelphia Inquirer of 10-24-09 and especially the last sentence express my thoughts about this concert.

The Italianate qualities of Rossini and Mendelssohn were intelligently differentiated: The former had a sense of the pit-orchestra scale for which the music was conceived. Phrases were clipped but amiably inflected, without the extraneous cuteness that trivializes the music.

Mendelssohn can seem like a musical chameleon - Scottish one minute, Italian the next - though not with Gatti, who firmly rooted the music in the refined classicism of Mozart. With less-driven tempos than what's usually heard, Gatti revealed an only somewhat refracted version of the composer's Midsummer Night's Dream manner. With less-driven tempos, normally glossed-over pockets of music revealed themselves. Were cuts restored? It felt that way. With a solidly conceived tempo scheme, each event had its due while keeping everything in balance. Nothing dragged.

Initially, Gatti appeared to paint himself into a corner: Having reached what seemed like peak saturation with the orchestra's string sound in the first movement, how could the rest not be anticlimactic? Yet the sound picture grew in scope and intensity without curdling into strident overkill. This was Brahms of utmost seriousness: No postmodern observation, no school of performance, just whatever it takes to achieve maximum meaning without wringing the piece dry.

Principal players seemed drawn into that spirit: Incidental solos by hornist Jennifer Montone, clarinetist Ricardo Morales, and concertmaster David Kim exuded nobility without pretention. The experience was so abundant, you didn't want to hear anything else for a good while.
Posted on 26 Oct 2009, 3:27 AM