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Oct 22, 2006 - Superb playing and miscues - risk taking and the Reno Chamber Orchestra
By By Jack Neal
For entrepreneurs, miscues are the price of risk taking.
Musical entrepreneur Theodore Kuchar, the Reno Chamber Orchestra's conductor and music director, has been pushing all the right buttons for the orchestra since his arrival in Reno. The results? A complete makeover of the tried-and-true, Reno's so-called musician's orchestra.
Large doses of Kuchar's medicine has worked wonders. The conductor has had the chutzpah to land on his feet with adventuresome programming with an orchestra whose definition of contemporary, before his arrival, seemed to be Vivaldi, Vivaldi, Vivaldi. The orchestra has been challenged and is playing better than ever. Audience numbers have doubled.
Saturday night's concert (10/21/06) at Nightingale Concert Hall was another of maestro's challenges, only this time the RCO was not entirely up to the stretch. The relatively old – Haydn's Symphony No. 87, and Mozart's Violin Concerto ("The Turkish") – won the day. The relatively new – Michael Tippett's Divertimento on "Sellinger's Round," Leos Janacek's Idyll for String Orchestra – weren't up to expectations.
Tippett's writing - tough, disjointed, rhythmically sophisticated – instead of fresh, invigorating and compelling. came off as noticeably tough, disjointed and rhythmically awkward. The ethnic charm of Janacek's Idyll was labored in the walk-through performance it got. Both were uncharacteristically, under Kuchar's baton, labored. The vitality usually inherent in all the newer things Kuchar interprets seemed tired this time out. The Tippett was a draining experience and a struggle. That left the Janacek flat and out of sorts. Intonation in the strings, especially the violas, added to several jarring notes not written into either of these scores.
The evening's major triumph was the Mozart with the elegant Ellen dePasquale as violinist. Inspired and luxuriantly lyric in its unpretentious presentation, the Mozart floated on the wings of rapture to an exalted level of performance. Solo artist, conductor and orchestra were as one with the sublime Mozart and his sublime music. Even Ms. dePasquale's very brief, and virtually unnoticed, lapse of memory served only as a reminder that perfection becomes even more attractive when it's matched against the reality of human frailty. Violinist Ellen dePasquale is unsurpassed in the eloquent art of Mozart. Conductor Theodore Kuchar is unsurpassed as a sensitive collaborator in the eloquence of Mozartean music making.
The Haydn sparkled its way through the ins and outs of thematic materials, symphonic textures, and key relationships that makes Haydn's brand of classicism so classic. This lovely first-rate Haydn, was given a performance to match by a refreshed orchestra striking pay dirt with music it loves.
The concert will be repeated Sunday, October 22, 2006.
All Reno Chamber Orchestra subscription concerts are played at Nightingale Concert Hall, 900 North Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada. The orchestra's next series of concerts January 20 and 21, 2007, will feature cellist Alexander Ivashkin, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2, Legrenzi's Sonata No. 6 and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8. The RCO's Chamber Music Festival is December 28-31, 2006. For information about all Reno Chamber Orchestra events call 775-348-9413.
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