Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra – SUMMERMUSIK at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Soloist: Chee Yun, violin. Guest Conductor: Christopher Zimmerman.
Elgar – Introduction and Allegro for String Orchestra and Quartet
Piazzolla – The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Beethoven – Symphony no. 7
The second concert of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s 2016 SUMMERMUSIK played to a loyal following last night in the Corbett Theatre of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, featuring an Elgar rarity, Tango King Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Beethoven’s Seventh. The CCO musicians were in rare form, led by visiting conductor Christopher Zimmerman, who drew a responsive final ovation at the end of the evening. The extraordinary violinist Chee Yun was the featured soloist in Astor Piazzolla’s Argentinian homage to his native Buenos Aires.
Introduction and Allegro for String Orchestra and Quartet is a mid-career effort by that most English of English composers, Edward Elgar. Unfettered by the academic restraint of Edwardian England and pitting the sound of the full orchestra to that of a string quartet in one continuous movement, the demands on the players are extensive. CC O regulars Amy Kiradjieff, Manami White, Heidi Yenney and Patrick Binford excelled as the string quartet.
Astor Piazzolla once said: “I was always asked about melody, never about rhythm. But when I had it dawn on me that melody has to have a rhythmic backbone, then I started to enjoy the swing that is part of the tango and then I really got into jazz…mixed with the classical…” The Argentine master of the Nuevo Tango who mixes, in his own words, the classical with the popular incorporates into The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires the impolite angularity, crisscrossing melodies and blunt rhythms of a kind of popular music that reflects the moves of a dance of cool seduction and dominance. His is resolutely urban, romantic at the core music that comes from the bowels of the River Plate docks, from the bordellos and dives of Buenos Aires, a city where spring is brief, summer long, autumn melancholy, and winter is grey.
Violinist Chee Yun made a stunning impression, playing Piazzolla’s music with just the perfect Latin feel and with dazzling technical prowess, supported by Maestro Zimmerman’s assertive conducting. The string section of the CCO did especially work here, with first cello Patrick Binford an eloquent partner of Ms. Yun’s.
By the time of the composition and first performance of Beethoven’s seventh symphony, the composer was recovering from one of his frequent bouts of ill health. Yet one would never know this from this music, so optimistically melodic and resolutely positive in its dance-like rhythms that Richard Wagner was moved to call it“…the apotheosis of the dance.” Orchestrated for the typical orchestra of Beethoven’s time: 8 woodwinds, 2-to-4 brass, timpani and strings, this, of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies sounds perfect when played by an ensemble the size and quality of the CCO.
The composition’s opening was given a stately opening by the orchestra, quickly moving into a joyfully played vivace filled with passages meant for the woodwinds to shine. Following a tad sluggish Allegretto, the lively Scherzo was led and played with as much whimsy as this listener has heard, and the final Allegro con brio was injected with the sort of energy that dares an audience not to rise to their feet with the final notes – which is precisely what happened.
Christopher Zimmerman, a candidate for the position of Music Director of the CCO evidenced finesse and keen insights into the music in the program: a vibrant Beethoven, a fiery Piazzolla, and an elegant Introduction and Allegro. This is a gifted young maestro whose qualifications will make the selection work of the CSO’s management immensely difficult.
Rafael de Acha