Saturday, November 16, 2013

BlueWater Chamber Orchestra: Honoring Cleveland's Culture

Corigliano: Voyages for Strings
Weber: Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 26 (Amitai Vardi, clarinet)
Beethoven: Romance No 2 for Violin and Orchestra. Op. 50 (Jieming Tang, violin)
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (Italian), Op. 90
Davies: An Orknet Wedding, with Sunrise, J. 264
Carlton R. Woods, conductor.
At the Plymouth Church UCC, Shaker Heights.

I'm finally home in Cleveland for a bit (no travel "on the books" until January, thankfully) and feeling a little lacking in the Music department. Tonight, Rachel and I took the short jaunt to the Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights for a fun program full of variety and quality musicianship from the BlueWater Chamber Orchestra.

This was our second time hearing the orchestra and the different "feelings" between the two venues was a bit striking -- while the Breen Center is more modern and a bit more comfortable, Plymouth Church has the advantage of a less formal feeling, specifically a less harsh division between orchestra and audience.

The program was a delightful "musical sampler" of sorts featuring works that span vast spaces both in time and structure, making it easy to like and hard to get bored.

Opening the program, Voyages for Strings presented a relaxed bit of travel -- no drama of a trip gone awry, but rather the serenity of an airplane in cruise or a train en route where everything is going as it should. Next up, the Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra was restrained at introduction but broke free to a lively midsection with lively and engaging playing by soloist Anitai Vardi.

One beautifully flowing piece lead to another -- featuring a slightly younger but no less talented soloist in Jieming Tang, a currently sophomore. Mr. Tang and the orchestra gently embraced before taking each other on a slow dance.

Mendelssohn's Italian symphony was played with particular clarity, and the longest piece of the evening -- the first and fourth movements were the fastest -- the first being insistent with a hint of bickering, and the fourth with a sense of running after a burst of energy. While the second (more reserved) and the third movements were slower, the momentum of the piece was preserved avoiding the sense of "hitting the emergency brakes" that slower movements can sometimes give when following a faster movement.

The last piece of the evening was certainly the most fun and unique -- following a Scottish wedding with such movements as "Guests arriving out of violent weather", and "Increasingly inebriated dance" -- and also the first I can remember to feature bagpipes (with Mr. Jeff Sandlin filling that need quite well) -- it was toe tapping and cheery music. The only objection was the (intentionally) out of tune playing as the "drinking" progressed -- it was clear some of the musicians appeared to be physically pained by being forced out of tune -- but such is the necessity of the piece.

The next BlueWater Chamber Orchestra concert, "Lake Winds Bring Spring Strings" will be presented at the Plymouth Church on March 1st at 7pm.


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