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by Daniel Hathaway

Zsolt BognarWhat could be more delightful than two sparkling early Beethoven works featuring a riveting young pianist and a fine chamber orchestra, all wrapped up in a 75-minute concert format and presented without intermission? That was the recipe for success as the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra opened its latest season on Saturday evening, September 6 at the Breen Center in Ohio City. The program consisted of Beethoven’s first symphony and first piano concerto, with Cleveland pianist Zsolt Bognár at the Steinway and music director Carlton Woods on the podium.

Early it may be, but Beethoven’s first essay in the symphony is full of surprises (it begins in the composer’s best bad-boy style on a dominant seventh chord) and equally full of pitfalls both for orchestra and conductor. Blue Water played with cohesive sound and tight ensemble through the whole piece, and its violin section tossed off tricky transitions like the lead-in to the fourth movement allegro with consummate ease. Only the element of surprise went missing from some of the composer’s twists and turns. Read the rest of this entry »

by Guytano Parks

TANG-Jieming2BlueWater Chamber Orchestra, conducted by founder and Artistic Director Carlton R. Woods presented an enlightening and entertaining program of works by John Corigliano, Carl Maria von Weber, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Peter Maxwell Davies on Saturday evening at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. The featured soloists were Amitai Vardi, principal clarinet of BWCO, and fifteen year-old St. Ignatius High School sophomore Jieming Tang, violin, who made his orchestral debut on this occasion.

Opening the program was Corigliano’s Voyages for Strings, an instrumental version of an a cappella choral work that was a setting of Baudelaire’s L’Invitation au voyage. Plymouth Church proved to be the ideal space for this sensual music — beautifully played with wondrous blend and balance — to breathe and soar. Points of resolution were heavenly as the players mused and ambled through Corigliano’s sometimes ambiguous harmonic territory.

Jieming Tang impressed with his lovely, lyrical playing of Beethoven’s Romance No. 2, Op. 50. Projecting clearly and effortlessly above the orchestra at all times, his tone was sweet and clear in the upper register and deep and rich in the lower. Beethoven’s well-crafted piece benefitted from Mr. Tang’s expressive delivery of every detail, and Woods and the orchestra gave him fine and graceful support. Read the rest of this entry »

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