The Ridgefield Symphony’s “Welcome Maestro” concert last Saturday evening, with Maestro Yuga Cohler on the podium for the first time as the orchestra’s new music director, was a welcome treat, not only because it signaled a successful end of more than a year’s competitive search for a new leader, but more importantly because the extraordinarily high combined quality of Cohler’s direction and the orchestra’s response to it suggests that Ridgefield audiences have much to look forward to in upcoming seasons. The varied program, intended to celebrate both Maestro Cohler’s debut and the memory of former Ridgefield residents Howard and Rhoda Silverman, included Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with RSO Concertmaster Jorge Avila as soloist, and César Franck’s Symphony in D minor.
Le Tombeau de Couperin, serving as Ravel’s tribute to the delicate elegance of early French music, is a beautiful series of dance movements featuring, particularly in the first movement, a seriously difficult solo oboe part, which RSO principal oboist Dorothy Darlington managed with easy grace. With ample evidence of serious rehearsal time, Maestro Cohler interpreted the entire work to perfection, communicating delicate shadings and phrasings to a sensitively responsive orchestra.