Soloist, orchestra excel through highs and lows

Eclectic and edifying sum up Kamloops Symphony's twin concerts in Kamloops and Salmon Arm over the weekend.

From musically obscure to popular, from sad lament to uplifting dance, the orchestra proved its mettle with a richly varied program in sharp contrast with September's Clearly Classical, the last KSO concert.

Eastern Echoes opened and closed with works by Czech-French-American composer Bohuslav Martinu and Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly, yet also drew upon Canadian content and a spectacular violin concerto featuring soloist Erika Raum.

The latter piece - Violin Concerto No. 1 by German composer Max Bruch - gave Raum ample opportunity to demonstrate her lyrical playing and range of tone colours. Bruch once drew high praise from none other than Mozart, who called him the father of classical music. He certainly knew how to hold an audience in rapture with a remarkable flow. Raum's performance drew a standing ovation from the Sagebrush Theatre audience.

There was a less certain response to Martinu's Sinfonietta La Jolla, a quirky symphony that percolated through three distinct musical ideas. Naomi Cloutier's performance on grand piano - a striking presence at centre stage for this piece alone - highlighted what would have otherwise seemed a disjointed symphony.

Pared to strings-only after the intermission, the orchestra shifted into low gear - low as in elegaic - for Such Sweet Sorrow by Calgary composer John Estacio. Last season the KSO opened a concert with Solaris, a high-powered overture describing the sun. In this case the music, named after a line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, describes his parting with Edmonton en route to Calgary. Again, a striking contrast in this music for a dark month.

Dances of Galanta, exemplifying Kodaly's Hungarian folk roots, was the antidote that gave the orchestra a greater chance to sparkle. A succession of soli by Cvetozar Vutev, Martin Kratky, Veronique Saucier, Sally Arai and Catherine Dochstader (I've probably forgotten someone) lent a touch of intimacy to this joyful celebration of gypsy music.

It's segue to the festive season achieved, the KSO next gathers for Christmas concerts Dec. 11-12.

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