Saturday, March 1, 2014

BlueWater Chamber Orchestra: Lake Winds Bring Spring Strings

Elgar: Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47 for Solo String Quartet and Strings (Kenneth Johnson, Emily Cornelius, violins; Laura Shuster, viola; Kent Collier, cello)
Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Barber: Capricorn Concerto, Op. 21 (Sean Gabriel, flute; Neil Mueller, trumpet; Martin Neubert, oboe)
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings, Op. 48
Carlton R. Woods, conductor. At the Plymouth Church UCC, Shaker Heights

Rachel and I attended our third BlueWater Chamber Orchestra concert this evening and it occurred to me that one consistency among all three is that they're easily digestible presentations: Well performed pieces in an format that runs roughly 90 minutes free from intermission, it's just the right amount of commitment. 

Tonight's program opened with Elgar's Introduction and Allegro -- striking me at first as having the dreary atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century main street, particularly through a longing viola. However, as the piece progresses the sun begins to shine through and a moment of drama as the clouds part. A tremolo in the second violin created am interesting sound that sounded almost banjo-like and a musically romantic embrace were highlights of the piece. 

Barber's Adagio for Stings -- easily that composer's best known work, followed with a beautifully somber and longingly sentimental piece. Third on the program, the same composer's Capricorn Concerto moved us into the long form portion of the concert; while the first movement (allegro ma non troppo) didn't really engender any feelings, the second recaptured my attention through winds that I could best describe as walking -- and joined in their stroll by the violas and later cellos. As the piece progressed into the third and fourth movements, I particularly enjoyed what seemed like the soundtrack for a spirited and civic-minded dialogue. 

This brings us to the final piece on the program, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings which felt much different than the prior works on the program -- the first movement starting with a powerful first statements and evolving into a spirited debate between the high and low string sections before settling into a lovely elegant and graceful mood. The second movement was faithful to its notation as a waltz, evoking imagery of a 1800s ballroom and a romantic slow dance, while the third movement made me think of quiet springtime walks. 

Next up on BlueWater's season is Iron Composer and Iron Violinist on May 10th at the Plymouth Church -- based on Mr. Woods' comments during tonight's program it sounds like it has the potential to be very entertaining. 


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