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World Premiere Shares Program with Familiar Favorites

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Nov 20, 2015 - 10:00:05 AM in reviews_2015

left to right: Louis Lngrée and Renaud Capuçon
Thursday night’s (Nov. 19) Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance was marked by the world premiere of “Flex” by Sebastian Currier.

   Commissioned by the CSO, "Flex" is a six-movement, 30-minute concerto for orchestra, each movement marked by a distinctive structure and a wealth of color. CSO music director Louis Langrée introduced the composer who provided comments on the work.

   The first movement, “In the Spotlight,” unfolded over a steady beat, with solos for violin, clarinet, bassoon, trombone, harp, vibraphone and tuba, each in effect spending time “in the spotlight.”

   Serving as a slow movement was “Fifteen Versions of the Same Phrase,” which as the title indicates, provided multiple settings of the same phrase, which itself remained unchanged. The clarinets opened “Micro-Variations," which enveloped the full orchestra in beams of color.

   In “Echoes, Canons and a Minuet,” soft violins alternated with frenetic winds and brasses, all, however coming to a soft end.  “Alone and Together,” another slow movement, featured lots of solos and a triplet theme heard previously.

   “Group Dynamics, again for full orchestra, grew intense with percussion laced multi-colors, ending with a whack.

   All in all, it was eminently listenable and received a warm reception from the audience. The work is being recorded for release next fall.

   The second half of the concert comprised the Concerto No. 1 in G Minor for Violin and Orchestra by Max Bruch and the “Romeo and Juliet” Overture-Fantasie by Tchaikovsky.  Soloist in the Bruch was French violinist Renaud Capuçon. Immediately apparent in Capuçon’s performance was his warm, satiny tone, displayed to full effect in the second movement of the Concerto.  Also apparent was his extremely agile technique on display in the Allegro energico finale. Especially appealing was the magical, song-like sound he achieved high on the violin’s lowest (G) string.

   Capuçon’s encore was the Meditation from “Thais” by Massenet. Exquisitely performed, it was dedicated to the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

The concert ended with an exceptional performance of the “Romeo and Juliet” Overture-Fantasie. With its caressing strings and love theme heard first in the violas, it reached a pulse-quickening climax.

   The concert repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 21) at Music Hall.