Saturday, February 02, 2013


Karen Gomyo

The Colorado Symphony had an interesting concert this evening which began with the challenging Harmonielehre by John Adams. Challenging for the orchestra; it truly is a showpiece, but it is even more challenging for the audience. There were numerous parts worth recognizing, but the most amazing to me was the trumpet part, a long series of long tones in the high register, played pianissimo and muted. I have no idea how Justin Bartels found space to breathe without passing out.

The orchestra had bad news this week when the president resigned under mysterious circumstances, presumably because tickets sales were much lower than projected for the first half of the season. Unfortunately, at times like this, playing contemporary music only hurts the orchestra, and therefore the music as well. The house was not good for this concert. It's a shame, as this piece was interesting but complex, and the second half of the program was truly crowd-pleasing.

After a very long intermission, conductor Peter Oundjian brought out guest Karen Gomyo for the Symphonie Espagnol of Lalo. She played beautifully and deserved the standing ovation that the audience gave her. Even more amazingly, the orchestra was fantastic on the other orchestral showpiece of the evening, Ravel's Bolero. I don't believe I have heard this piece live before, and it was interesting to see the melody passed from instrument to instrument. For some reason I had always thought it was an alto sax, but it is a tenor and soprano.

If there is any criticism for the evening, it is that the final chorus was not as climactic as I have heard it before on recordings. In fact the trombone glissandi were barely audible. But that's one tiny criticism of an otherwise fantastic night. I sincerely hope that there are not any more financial issues troubling this world-class orchestra!

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