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Jan 10, 2010 - Voluptuous coloration, exotic rhythms and haunting melodies at the latest series of Reno Philharmonic concerts
By Jack Neal
Sunday afternoon (1/10/10) at Reno’s Pioneer Center, launching a series of concerts called “Latin Temptation,” conductor Laura Jackson once again comes up a winner.
With selections from Bizet’s “Carmen,” extracts from Suites Numbers 1 and 2 (“Carmen’s” biggest hits), Astor Piazzolla’s Aconcagua: Concerto for Bandoneon and Orchestra with the irrepressible Peter Soave as soloist (a fascinating and quite different product of Motown), Debussy’s Iberia (from his Images for Orchestra), and Ravel’s hypnotic Bolero, it is a program of voluptuous coloration, exotic rhythms and haunting melodies.
Other than Soave who is guest artist, there are so many soloists within the orchestra playing impressively at whatever these formidable composers throw in their direction it’s enough to say the concert really stars the orchestra, which is playing with a burnished symphonic sound and with great articulation. In short, the concert is another entirely fulfilling encounter with excellence. Kudos to Jackson for her keen musicianship, magnetic leadership and just plain charm making her a triple-threat maestro and one of America’s up-and-coming brilliant young conductors.
The Piazzolla is an entrancing piece. Marinated in all things Argentine it mesmerizes from start to finish. Orchestrated for bandoneon, strings, piano, harp, tympani and a variety of enticing sounds supplied by the orchestra’s percussionists this is lyric, romantic Latin music at its most alluring. Soave is a master of technique, but more importantly he is a master of style. Piazzolla’s music and Soave’s virtuosity combines, as someone once poetically wrote, “folkloric beauty with contemporary tension.” His collaboration with Jackson and the orchestra is nothing less than memorable. As was the encore, also by Piazzolla, entitled “Oblivion.”
Selections from the “Carmen” suites were stunningly brought off. What might be considered a war horse in more hackneyed hands, Jackson makes fresh, breezy, and – when called for – stormy. Trumpeter Paul Lenz is the stand-in for whatever operatic lead might be singing at any given moment, and – forgive the illusion – he hits the bull’s eye time and again. Escamillo should be so gifted.
Jackson mixes the colors of Debussy with her own multi-hued palette without making garrish Technicolor out of what are intended to be but precise pastels. This is an enormous tone poem of sounds and textures and the robustness and sophistication of its presentation is what is making getting a ticket for a Reno Phil concert (Sunday’s concert was sold out, some tickets remain for Tuesday) a status symbol.
What can one say about Ravel’s Bolero, when it is as well played as it is here? Clarinetist Chris Money plays his solo turns beautifully, as do flutist Mary Miller and a bevy of other Reno Phil musicians. Placed dead center in a very smart move, percussionist Eric Middleton keeps the pulse of Bolero without budging off the mark established by Jackson one whit. That’s the kind of security for which therapists charge huge amounts of money. With the Reno Phil it’s the mere price of admission.
The concert will be repeated Tuesday (1/12/10) at 7:30 p.m.
All Reno Philharmonic MasterClassics subscription concerts are played at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, 100 South Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada. The next series of Reno Philharmonic subscription concerts, “The art of the concerto,” will be Sunday, March 14, 2010, at 4 p.m., and Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the music of J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concerto No. 3), Mozart (Piano Concerto No. 22) and Bartok (Concerto for Orchestra). With pianist Conrad Tao. Laura Jackson will conduct. For information call 775-323-6393 or go on line at RenoPhil@Reno Phil.com.
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