Eclectic FVSO performance proves enjoyable
Mar. 14, 2015
The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra treated its audience to a rather eclectic program of works Saturday evening at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton. However, the music, from the unknown to the revered, came together in such a way so as to make the concert most enjoyable.
Opening the program was “Valse Elegante” by American composer Edward Collins. The piece was originally written for piano solo, and later orchestrated by the composer. Written in a somewhat salon style, the work was quite pleasing and served as a fine opener.
Perhaps the most recognized of Aaron Copland’s compositions is the ballet music from Appalachian Spring, if not only for its incorporation of the popular Shaker melody, “Simple Gifts.” That aside, the music is truly what has become to be known as “American” in style, filled with Copland’s stylistic rhythms and harmonies. We heard the Suite from the ballet.
Scored as a single movement, there are eight clearly defined sections outlining the scenario of the story, each with it own designated tempo and musical identity.
The orchestra performed this work extremely well, bringing out the distinct color of Copland’s open harmonies, as well as his intricate rhythms and melodic designs. Numerous solo passages were tossed about the orchestra, and were played with confidence and excellence in musicianship.
Conductor Brian Groner’s interpretation was both imaginative, and filled with emotion.
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1 in A minor by Camille Saint-Saëns opened the second half of the program. Cellist Nazar Dzhuryn was guest soloist.
Saint-Saëns composed the concerto as a single movement with three distinct sections, Allegro non troppo – Allegretto – Allegro. The concerto offers much beauty and technical demands for the performer.
Dzhuryn seemed very much at ease with the concerto as the more demanding passages, particularly the sequenced arpeggios in the brilliant outer movements, bounced effortlessly off his bow. I couldn’t help be being taken by the sweetness of the sound produced by his instrument. This was most noted in the delicately scored middle section, Allegretto, as well as the lyrical second theme heard in the outer sections.
Possibly the most beautiful moment in the concerto occurs midway in the final section, where the solo cello plays a passage beginning low on the C string and rising to harmonics played near the end of the fingerboard … sheer beauty, flawlessly played by Dzhuryn.
For an encore, Dzhuryn played the Scherzo movement from Max Reger’s Suite No. 3 for solo cello.
The crowning glory of the evening had to be the performance of what is unquestionably Maurice Ravel’s most famous work, Bolero. This monumental work can easily be viewed as a treatise on the color of orchestration.
Built on one primary theme, in two parts, and aided by a snare drum ostinato, Bolero quietly begins with pizzicato strings and a solo flute, and slowly works its way as a long crescendo to full orchestra in all its magnificence.
With each repetition, or variation in color, the theme is featured with a different grouping of instruments, each offering its unique sound combination. Along the way we also get to hear a few instruments that aren’t traditionally found in the classical orchestra, including the soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, and oboe d’amore.
One cannot help but be captivated by this piece as its musical colors unfold. Ending in what might be called a “blaze of glory,” the audience erupted in resounding applause showing their appreciation.
— James Chaudoir: email@example.com