A LITTLE THING LIKE A TRILL

A common touch in classical music is a trill — a fast fluctuation between one note and another and back again. Executing it properly is difficult enough for a soloist, but for an orchestra? Well, it usually comes across as a flutter or blur, at best.

But once in a while, it’s different. When everybody’s precisely in sync, it becomes an exciting miniature roller coaster. In fact, the first time it happens, you’re uncertain whether you actually heard right. Your ears perk up for the repeat.

I remember the first time I encountered this — Max Rudolf leading the Cincinnati Symphony in a Cimarosa overture. I remember another time, as James Bolle led the New Hampshire Symphony in early Beethoven, and the smile on the concert master’s face in response. She was actually glowing over her violin.

Just heard it again, in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in a broadcast of Mozart.

An opera house orchestra? Few major symphony ensembles can pull it off. Bravi, indeed.

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