In Tuesday’s (4/14) Portland Press Herald (Maine), Allan Kozinn reviews the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s April 12 program featuring a “terrific, high-energy performance” of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony led by guest conductor Stefan Vladar. “Yet in some ways, the Tchaikovsky was upstaged by principal hornist John Boden’s stunning performance of Paul Hindemith’s Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, a 1949 work that, for good reason—the solo horn part is monstrously difficult—is rarely performed…. Its finale takes a dark, brooding turn…. World War II had been over for four years, but that era had been difficult for Hindemith, whose music was first embraced, then banned, then briefly embraced again, and finally labeled ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. He fled Germany in 1938 and settled in the United States in 1940…. Hindemith filled his score with challenges to test a hornists’ mettle, including rich, long-lined melodies, athletic leaps and perilous chromaticism… None of this seemed to faze Boden, whose playing was consistently smooth and warm-toned, and shaped with a clear, animated sense of character…. The orchestra played this music with all the heft and power it demands.” The program opened “with a vivid account of Mendelssohn’s ‘The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave).’ ”

Posted April 15, 2016