Instrumentalist - Cello
Orchestra, guests make joyful sounds
It was a big night for a little orchestra. In a program featuring the awesome power of Brahms, the ingenuity of a contemporary composer and the talents of two major guest artists, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus played in the big leagues tonight in a highly engaging performance at the Southern Theatre.

The concert, conducted by Music Director Timothy Russell, opened with what has to be one of the most agreeable recent works out there in the standard orchestral repertoire: Michael Daugherty's Tell My Fortune. The three movements focus on traditional gypsy methods for predicting the future - "Palm," "Crystal" and "Card" - and weave colorful, dramatic spells around each theme.

In the process, the composer offers some of the orchestral soloists important opportunities to shine. Concertmaster Katie McLin, bassoonist Albie Micklich and flutists Katherine DeJongh and Katherine Borst Jones all took full advantage of these special moments.

Melodramatic, sometimes mysterious and beautifully crafted, this is music that is also fun from beginning to end - and how often do we get to say that about contemporary music?

Russell and the orchestra found fun elsewhere as well, in the time-tested Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp Minor ("Farewell") by Haydn. One has to commend ProMusica for consistently programming the works of this great composer over the years, even when he appeared to have been forgotten by many others.

Along the way, they've also gotten pretty good at playing his music, and even though last night's performance might not rank as among the cleanest, ProMusica gave Haydn his due in terms of interpretive interest, from the Sturm und Drang opening through the clever finale.

The final work, Brahms' mighty Concerto for Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra in A Minor, brought a familiar face and talent to the Southern stage, that of violinist Vadim Gluzman, best-known locally for his performance with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on its landmark trip to Carnegie Hall in 1991. Gluzman joined cellist Gary Hoffman at the front of the stage, and it seemed an unusually suitable partnering, though one suspects the fiery Gluzman had to tone down his powerful Stradivari a bit to match the gentler Amati cello.

It is always a joy to hear this great music performed by wonderful artists, but it is a bit rarer to also hear it on two great instruments. And with all the planets aligned, this richly textured music of Brahms soared.

Barbara Zuck, Columbus Dispatch
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