It is a wonderful work for winds, and this ensemble celebrated its fluency in the subtle, and sometimes exuberant, writing. The strings completed the solidity of the performance. The second movement expanded with the resonance and clarity of the string leadership. Milanov's firm view of the whole but easy sense of forward motion lifted it above the other movements, but without jostling the context. It was a reading that celebrated soloists and ensemble, freedom and coherence.
The conductor rightly had the wind players bow at the end. Those players had excelled in the "Dances of Galanta," which opened the concert. The Kodaly music portrays the elegant dances of an area of northern Hungary long notable for its Gypsy bands and flourishing folk tradition. Milanov sorted out the rhythmic niceties, opened textures to let oboe, clarinet, and flute soloists sing clearly, and gave the strings room for vigorous and sometimes earthy playing.
These rounds of dances turn explosive. Milanov urged playing that glowed with animation after earlier slower dances had grown through restraint and control. Clarinetist Gi Lee became a kind of hero through his elaborately decorated solo playing throughout the work.
The centerpiece of this program was Brahms' last orchestral work, The Double Concerto, with Spanish violinist Ricardo Gonzalez and Austrian cellist Matthias Bartolomey. Both players commanded perceptive playing through the work, but it never took wing. Milanov's sense of the whole was not apparent here, and the work emerged as a series of events without strong linkages. The soloists' sense of dialogue appeared only occasionally, and this soaring piece stood strangely mute, its X's and Y's unbalanced.