Finally, enough harps, but no trap door.

Among the highlights of the USM Youth Ensembles concert Thursday night at Merrill Auditorium was a brilliant performance of two movements from Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique.”

“The Ball,” with a waltz that outdoes Strauss, relies on two harps for its ethereal atmosphere, but they are never emphasized enough. Phoebe Durand McDonnell, home schooled, and Brianna Wilson, Freeport HIgh School, with the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert Lehmann, showed how it should be done.

The second movement of the pair, the “March to the Scaffold,” was equally well played, but there was no snap of the trap door at the end. Maybe other conductors over-emphasize it, but I miss it.

Prior to the Berlioz, the orchestra played Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture, No. 3, Op. 72b, managing to snatch the melodies from a sea of over-orchestration, a feat not many professional orchestras are capable of. It featured excellent off-stage trumpet calls by Max Richardson of Marshwood High School.

(The above is a partial review. The full text will appear in the Saturday, April 13, edition of the Portland Press Herald.)

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