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WCO: Stravinsky, Mendelssohn, Beethoven
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Program
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60

Performers
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Stella Simakova, piano
Kirk Muspratt, conductor

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The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Kirk Muspratt, featured the brilliant young pianist Stella Simakova in a very solid performance of Mendelssohn's Concerto No. 1 in G Minor. The work's transparent orchestral textures, flashy pianistic bravura and appealing lyricism were all well served. Simakova seems destined for a major career.

Stravinski's Pulcinella Suite, which opened the program, did not fare so well. Based on themes of the early 18th-century Italian Pergolesi and masterfully orchestrated, the work's great technical difficulties resulted in a string of ensemble collapses that I would chalk up to insufficient rehearsal time, probably, perhaps combined with the Union's dry on-stage acoustic.

In Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major Muspratt took the modern approach to tempos, that is, very quick fast movements, but I think that worked quite well, even though the concluding allegro ma non troppo was more nearly presto when it came to playing at the edge of possibility. For me the standout aspect of the performance came in the adagio, where clarinetist Nancy Mackenzie, faced with very demanding solos, simply put them away.

Isthmus, October, 1999
Copyright 1999 Jess Anderson




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