5 at The First – “Romantic Expressions” Reply

Review by Judith CaldwellreviewerJudith

Word has gotten out about how good these concerts are and a capacity crowd came out on a cold January night to hear a very accomplished sextet play Brahms and Tchaikovsky. The evening began with a group of teenaged players called the Bel Canto Strings Academy Chamber Orchestra directed by Jennifer Spleit-Landry.  They played the theme from Schindler’s List by the brilliant John Williams, and Brahms Academic Festival Overture. Unfortunately not all members of the orchestra began at the same time and at least one consistently played the wrong key, so at first the opening piece was discordant. Eventually they got together a little better and the wonderfully mournful Jewish music of Shindler’s List became recognizable.  The orchestra did much better with the  Academic Festival  Overture especially the ‘Gaudeamus igitur’ section.
The sextet of Yehonatan Berick & Csaba Koczo, violin; Caitlin Boyle and Ivan Ivanovich, viola; plus cellists Rachel Desoer and Rachel Mercer then played Brahms String Sextet in G Major and they showed what a difference practice and experience make.  They performed this very complex music quite brilliantly and portrayed Brahms melancholy wonderfully, especially in the sorrowful adagio.
After intermission our sextet performed Piotr Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence.  This work opens with a very energetic Allegro con spirito in D minor which is followed by the romantic adagio where the melody is passed from a violin to a cello while the other instruments play picatta.  The allegretto moderato was very intense and our sextet displayed perfect timing.  Lastly came the very familiar and difficult allegro con brio which this group polished off with excellent technique and they seemed to totally enjoy this music.  The audience could not help but give them a standing ovation.
I hope the teens who tried so valiantly in the first half understood just how much practice and dedication must have gone into the post-interval playing and I hope they are inspired to keep playing and improving.  They too can reach that level if they work at it.

The next concert in the 5 at the First series is on February 17th @ 3.30pm., for details – www.5atthefirst.weebly.com

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