Sunday, January 07, 2007

5 Things about the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

I heard violinist Cho-Liang "Jimmy" Lin with conductor JoAnn Falletta and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Sunday afternoon in the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater.

1. The concert was perfectly planned and programmed. As Falletta spoke to the audience beforehand, there were three pieces that looked back in history (including Vaughan-Williams' Tallis Fantasy), and two gems for the violin. Overheard while she was talking and at intermission was how graceful and brilliant JoAnn is.

2. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Concerto Grosso started the program, looking back at Handel. The orchestra caught the lyric and angular sides of this work and kept things very fresh.

3. Jimmy Lin played beautifully in Dvorak's Romance (with wonderful solos from the principal clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati) and gave great brilliance to Mozart's 2nd Violin Concerto. As he said in the Classical Chat afterwards, Mozart wrote three better concerti after the 2nd (and far more performed than the others) - you wouldn't have guessed he felt that way by hearing him. I asked at the end of the chat if there were more composer anniversaries they were looking forward to in 2007, and Jimmy zinged me, saying he was going to celebrate Mozart's 251st birthday this year - touche!

4. Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite (keeping the theme of looking back, in this case to Pergolesi) is so charming, and certainly came across from the great music making of the COoP. Especially impressive was the bass section, just two of them, really nailing their parts.

5. JoAnn Falletta is such a delight, both on cd and in performance. She gives the musicians what they need musically, and she lets the audience enjoy some ballet too. The energy levels and joy she exudes is infectious for all involved. I'm looking forward to hearing her and one of her regular posts, in Buffalo this June.

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has several more concerts ahead, including a performance with guest conductor Gerard Schwarz later this month.
Also keep an ear out here for my interview with JoAnn.

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