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Arts Knoxville (Strauss-Alpine Symphony, 2014):

“The journey that was the satisfying second half of the KSO’s evening began in the dim light before dawn, climbed to the mountain heights through forest, glacier, and waterfall, braved untold dangers and a storm, only to return home at day’s end chastened by the ennobling experience. That journey was Richard Strauss’ programmatic tone poem, Eine Alpensinfonie, a fifty-minute-or-so exploration that I personally wouldn’t mind taking again and again…While the fascinating variety of instrumental effects in the KSO’s textural painting was endlessly entertaining, conductor Lucas Richman and orchestra seemed to bask in something greater: the work’s ability to draw the listener in to willing acceptance of lyrical descriptions twisted with modernist tonalities. I enjoyed conductor Richman’s epic take on the work, giving each section’s descriptive textures the proper exposure and emphasis, light and darkness…The KSO’s Eine Alpensinfonie was a journey worth every minute of the dizzying and dazzling narrative.”

bangordaily

 (Strauss-Tod und Verklarung, 2014):

“The whole afternoon, in fact, was one of the most dynamic, widely enjoyable concerts the Bangor Symphony Orchestra has given in several seasons. The color, the energy, the light and darkness that conductor Lucas Richman and the orchestra brought to the auditorium was nothing short of magical. The Bangor Symphony Orchestra has not sounded so colorful in some time — Richman coaxed both quiet reflection and massive, crashing tumult out of the musicians, especially from the horns, which ably swung from dusky, pianissimo harmonies to earth-shattering fanfares.”

metropulse

(Dvorak-Symphony No.9, 2011):

“Richman concluded the evening with Dvorák’s New World Symphony. It is the highest compliment I can give to say I have never heard the work sound so right, or so American, at least in the opening two movements. In the opening Adagio movement, it seemed as if Richman had carefully recognized and focused on those moments in which the composer had purposely suggested American melodies, and had kept the orchestral balance pushed toward the delicate side of woodwinds and away from European string solidity.”

metropulse

(Amadeus, 2010):

“Like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus has grown into a formidable theatrical entity since its premiere 30 years ago. It has accumulated a number of theatrical versions, an adapted film script, and differing production approaches, all the while absorbing the ever-continuing Mozart scholarship and the sticks and stones of controversy thrown at some of the playwright’s characterizations. However, the Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, in their current joint production of Amadeus, have apparently found a way to transform that snowball into something quite fresh—a tight and focused, multi-faceted gem that combines music and theatre in an entirely unique way. The most visible (and audible) feature of this stunning production, stemming from the collaboration of director Calvin MacLean of the CBT and music director Lucas Richman of the KSO, was the use of an expanded selection of Mozart’s music blended brilliantly and seamlessly into the fabric of the play—and performed by the onstage KSO, singers, and chorus. This addition pushed the theatrical rhythm in a somewhat cinematic direction, where scene underscore becomes an essential part of the director’s narrative language. With the orchestra’s presence built into designer Ron Keller’s impressive, sweeping set, and the orchestral players and singers dressed in contemporary concert attire rather than period costumes, the orchestra represented neither actor nor audience, but rather the abstract ideal of sublime music that has transcended the details of the unfolding drama…Although most productions of the play have, for obvious reasons, used recorded music for incidental dramatic purposes, the expanded amount of music and the onstage orchestra have taken this production of Amadeus to a creative level that is rarely experienced in theater, if at all. With additions such as this, one naturally fears that dramatic emphasis could have been lost, characters overwhelmed, or design compromised. In fact, just the opposite has happened. MacLean and Richman have been so successful in integrating the orchestra and music transparently into the play that one senses a completely natural transformation in which the visual and performance aspects of superior theater have become one with the sublime music of Mozart.”

metropulse

(Mahler-Symphony No.5, 2009):

“…While he clearly enjoyed the thrill of dramatic outbursts and punctuations, Richman took the careful storyteller’s approach, avoiding the Mahler trap of losing thematic passages amid emotional—but directionless and unbalanced—detail and texture…Richman clearly knew his goal and avoided the potential pitfall of getting caught up in excessive emotion. The following lyrical Adagietto was a stunning contrast. Richman asked for—and received—gorgeous dynamics from the strings. The Rondo finale was a feast of bouncing counterpoint and interjected themes that burst from the KSO brass. … Richman practically yanked the audience out of their seats with the crescendo near the end.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Beethoven-Symphony No.7, 2008):

“Instead of a relentless, tempo-driven acceleration from beginning to end, Richman’s interpretation glistened with bold outbursts, offset by contrasting moments of tranquility. With enormous skill, Richman molded together the opposites of thick, solid phrases and delicate, gossamer lines; dense moments set against glowing transparency; fury balanced by calm. None of it was more beautiful or satisfying than Richman’s interpretation of the magnificent second movement, which was prayer-like, exquisite and tender. Bravo!”

metropulse

(Shostakovich-Symphony No.10, 2014):

“With the inevitable letdown of the four month summer hiatus looming for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and its audiences, one naturally has high hopes for the final performances of the season. A bit of euphoria for a season well-accomplished would be nice, with some eager anticipation for the future thrown in for good measure. A bonus would be a finale in which performance elements–focus, energy, timing, interpretation, and exquisite playing–all converge at the same precise moment for an experience that is not only euphoric, but breathtaking. Last Friday evening’s final concert of the 2013-14 season by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra was definitely one of those experiences. One could not have chosen a better finale work, for this season at least, than the Shostakovich Tenth Symphony. In it, the composer let loose the personal drama he had lived in under Stalin’s gaze and turned much of that bitterness into musical power. On an orchestral level, this was the most focused, balanced, and incisive performance that I had heard from the KSO all season. Richman’s particular affinity for 20th Century music was readily apparent, as well, in dynamic gestures that were bold without being overly brassy.”

metropulse

(Reznicek/Kodaly, 2013):

“With the official announcement last week that music director and conductor Lucas Richman would be leaving the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra after the 2014-15 season, one naturally had to reflect on what might be in store for the orchestra and audiences over the next two years and beyond. Fortunately, it only took a handful of measures in last weekend’s opening concert to propose, and for the evening’s works to confirm, that Richman’s KSO legacy will be the quantum leap in technical achievement made by the orchestra over his tenure—an achievement that verges on the phenomenal. The opening work on the concert, Emil von Reznicek’s Overture to Donna Diana, was brisk, happy, and crisply articulated, from the scale-like opening measures to the satisfying pah-pah-pah conclusion—the perfect upbeat opener. The highlight of the evening for the orchestra, though, was Zoltan Kodály’s Háry János Suite on the second half of the program…Richman’s approach was somewhat heroic as well, superbly confident with nicely balanced orchestral color, crisply contrasting the lyrical with the bright.”

metropulse

(Mozart-Symphony No.38, 2011):

“It may seem like a stretch to attach any sort of operatic qualities to Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D Major (“Prague”), yet that is exactly what Lucas Richman appeared to be doing last Sunday as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra opened its Chamber Classics series…It isn’t surprising, then, that Richman thought to bring a theatrical energy and vitality to the Prague Symphony—a vitality that bubbled with dramatic intensity. While the work does have brief superficial landmarks such as passage and movement-ending flourishes and reminders of other works, it is the overall operatic intrigue and vibrance that sets the work apart. And it is in these flashes of operatic character that Richman and the orchestra excelled.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Beethoven-Symphony No.4, 2010):

“…But as good as maestro Lucas Richman and the KSO’s performances of the two Brahms works were, the orchestra’s best playing may have been reserved for a stellar performance of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major,” Op. 60. The unusually sensitive, exquisitely delicate opening moments of the first movement were as beautifully executed by Richman as any of his very good work with the orchestra thus far.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Mahler-Symphony No.5, 2009):

“But to those who thought nothing could top that and went home at intermission, they missed what may well be one of the most stellar performances the KSO has ever played in its simply magnificent presentation of Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor.” If playing like this is what maestro Lucas Richman and the KSO have spent this season developing, then the upcoming 75th anniversary season will be something definitely not to miss. Although there were absolutely wonderful solos, especially by principal trumpet Kathy Leach in the first movement and principal horn Calvin Smith in the third movement, I can recall only a few occasions when every musician’s awareness of the context of his or her playing was more keen. It was ensemble playing of the highest order. The entire horn section, following Smith’s lead, has never played better. But that would also be true of each of the instrument groups in the orchestra. The sensitivity with which Richman led the strings in the shimmering beauty of the love song with the harp in the fourth movement was exquisite. But given the overall quality of this concert, that’s a difficult moment to call out. Bravo, indeed.”

metropulse

(Berlioz-Requiem, 2008):

“Like the slightly eccentric uncle who rarely comes to visit, Hector Berlioz’ Requiem (Grande Messe des morts) showed up in Knoxville last weekend at the Tennessee Theatre courtesy of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Knoxville Choral Society. This uncle, however, came bearing gifts that were unusual in both size and dramatic scope…Maestro Lucas Richman led the charge through this 90-minute, 10-movement work…Richman handled the ebb and flow of the musical emotions beautifully, but on this occasion his job required more than interpretation. He deserved the bravos for combining the orchestra, the brass choirs, the chorus, and the tenor soloist into a coordinated, balanced, unified whole. Without this unity, the piece could have easily disintegrated into a mess of unconnected movements and an embarrassment of fumbled logistics…The choral voices—crisp, clear, balanced, and confident—were solidly responsive to Richman’s direction. That the Berlioz Requiem is one of the most sublime pieces of music ever written is obvious. What wasn’t obvious was that Richman would turn out to be such a strong Berlioz advocate and interpreter.”

bangordaily

(Beethoven-Symphony No.7, 2014):

“The BSO, led by Maestro Lucas Richman, was in fierce, spirited form Sunday with the Beethoven Symphony No. 7. The dynamic range Richman coaxed out of the orchestra was fascinating, from the pure, mysterious beauty of the second movement to the joyful power of the finale. The yearly Beethoven performance by the BSO is always a much-anticipated occasion by patrons, and Sunday’s performance may have been the most electrifying one in recent years.”

bangordaily

(Kodaly-Dances of Galanta, 2009):

“Lucas Richman set the bar high at Sunday’s concert. Richman, currently music director for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in Knoxville, Tenn., exudes a kind of warm, approachable confidence. He is eloquent and assured, while being soft-spoken and accessible. He is a communicator, a necessary skill for a community organization such as the BSO. Aside from his talents as a conductor, Richman’s ability to connect with his musicians and his audience is valuable. On the podium, he is in complete command of the orchestra, as evidenced by the uncommonly nuanced concert-opening performance of Zoltan Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta,” a vivid and charming piece from the Hungarian composer. Richman brought rich tones and playful rhythms from the BSO, focusing on the small, delightful details of the piece, inspired by Kodaly’s hometown in the Hungarian countryside.”

metropulse

(Beethoven-Symphony No.3, 2011):

“The second half of the program was devoted to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” a work certainly capable of delivering a ceremonial bang. However, Richman stayed well clear of ostentation here, instead content to showcase his orchestra’s ability to deliver wonderful dynamics as well as precision and warmth, especially in the strings. Even the opening movement, which can be rendered as an overpowering demonstration of battle, was colorful, vibrant, and alive with Beethoven’s characteristic woodwind passages appearing and disappearing, counterbalanced with enough driving assertiveness from the entire orchestra. For the second movement, Richman found humility in the Funeral March that he marked with careful tempos that highlighted the subdued and plaintive colors in the woodwinds…To counter the preceding mournfulness, Richman offered the third movement a real driving tempo, coupled with a luscious show of ensemble playing from the horn section. Thankfully, the Finale lost none of the freshness and intensity that had been woven into the preceding movements. There was a lilting grandness here offset by a set of variations on a theme in which quintessential Beethoven orchestral colors eventually give way to a racing, triumphant close. And with the close came a feeling of exhilaration—perhaps not a bang, but a genuine feeling of achievement by an orchestra beginning an exciting future this season.”

metropulse

(Beethoven-Symphony No.9, 2011):

“The featured work of the evening, however, was thought-provoking in quite another sense: Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (“Choral”). Performances of the work today have unfailingly been presented and accepted as big events, for reasons of marking special occasions as well as for the presence of the expanded forces of a large chorus and soloists. If for no other celebratory reason, this performance marked the conclusion of Lucas Richman’s journey with the KSO through the nine symphonies over the last several years. This excellent performance was the perfect culmination…The third Adagio movement is ripe for too-solemn interpretations, in my listening experience. But Richman took confident tempos throughout, while leaving plenty of room for the gentle passages and wonderful woodwind textures that wistfully appear and fade. It is the final “Ode to Joy” movement that created memories for the audience and carried them away into the night.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Messiaen-Les Offrandes oubliees, 2009):

“Although it can sometimes be as challenging to hear as to play, the rewards are always worth the effort. The Knoxville Symphony’s performance of Messiaen’s 1930 “Les Offrandes oubliees,” performed as the opening work on Thursday night’s concert at the Tennessee Theatre, was no exception. Under Maestro Lucas Richman’s fine conducting, the careful, supple chromaticism of the first section, written as an acknowledgement of the death of Christ on the cross, was beautifully played.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Schubert-Symphony No.9, 2007):

“Whatever the source of inspiration was, in what is approaching three decades of writing about the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, I have not heard a better total concert than the extraordinary program the KSO played Thursday night at the Tennessee Theatre. Only a couple of other performances resonate in my memory as being played on the level of Thursday night’s performance of Franz Schubert’s wonderful “Symphony No. 9 in C Major,” D944. As it’s title self-proclaims, it was simply “Great.” All due credit, of course, goes to maestro Lucas Richman for elevating the orchestra to new levels. It is his leadership that has made a concert of the quality possible.”

knowvile_sentinal

(Berlioz-Symphonie Fantastique, 2006):

“Finally, there was Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” Op. 14, completed in 1830. Subtitled “A episode in the life of an artist,” it swept through Berlioz’s rejected attempts at love, drug-induced visions of getting even, and the drama of his own fate. Along with the superior playing of all his forces, this was the result of KSO music director Lucas Richman’s superior preparation of the orchestra and his equally brilliant conducting.”