Monday, January 25, 2010

Vivaldi/Piazzolla's Eight Seasons in Phoenix

Last Saturday Night, Dr Desert Flower and I were WOW'ed at the Orpheum Theater. The Phoenix Symphony put on a remarkable show there with Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons coupled with Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons. Michael Christie actually crafted and conducted an impressive program, enlisting the Baroque soloist Robert Meely from Yale to play the Vivaldi pieces, and the vivacious Karen Gomyo (and her 300 year old "Ex Foulis" Stradivarius) to execute the dynamic and intensive Piazzollas.

With previous less-than-spectacular performances in mind, we entered 1929 vintage Orpheum with a degree of trepidation. And when La primacera began, and Christie, Meely, and concert master Steven Moeckel seemed to all be clumsily wrestling for who had the lead, with Meely's ad libbed solos stumbling as he seemed to rush ahead of himself by a note or two, the feeling of dread deepened. However, the Mormorio di fonde e piante, il caprano was a little better, and by the time they reached the Danza pastorale, there was maybe only 1/2 note of minor discordance. Vivaldi is a complex composer, and his works are extremely challenging - expecting perfection is unrealistic, but it's wonderful when it does occur. The Four Seasons have over 300 recordings registered, so they are very well known, and when a note is stumbled across, it's hard to conceal. So I kept that in mind, and did my best to listen receptively.

The first Piazzolla work, La Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, began with Ms. Gomyo in the first of her 4 dresses, spectacularly attacking the work, wonderfully synchronized with the orchestra behind her. It was a thing of beauty. Dr Desert Flower and I were both left speechless. Summer followed Spring, and then there was an intermission, complete with a personable chat between Ms.Gomyo and the audience. Autumn followed Summer, and Winter concluded the performance, Vivaldi and Piazzolla in sequence, the audience enraptured. Truly a formidable program, executed over-all quite memorably. Christie is redeeming himself in these 2 subscriber's eyes. We hope this trend continues! Bravo! Brava!

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