Monday, February 3, 2014

A Romantic Russian Afternoon with WCO

The Wilmington Community Orchestra performed the Russian Easter Overture, Opus 36 by Nickolai Rimsky-Korsakov and in doing so showed off some of the talented players. Larry Hamermesh, concertmaster, played his solos with panache and the clarinet work of Anthony Pantelopulos and Michelle Webb was a delight. Melinda Bowman’s soaring and delicate flute lines created a spider web of texture for the orchestra. Barry Morris, Pete Witherell and Jim Yurasek took on the demanding trombone parts with ease and it sounded great. I was also delighted to hear the double basses shine in their rhythmic underpinning to the very striking overture.

Charles Abramovic, piano
But when Charles Abramovic began to play the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major by Franz Liszt, I could not listen to anything but the amazing piano sounds. Mr. Abramovic is an excellent pianist, but I had heard him play mainly modern piano music before this concert, so I was overwhelmed by his ability to make the piano notes ring and reverberate with the sort of perfect declamatory sound that is so characteristic of romantic music. The concerto is an unbelievable tour de force technically, but Mr. Abramovic seemed unconcerned by notes and dedicated to following the conductor and the orchestra. His dynamic control was superb and he had passages where he had to put a theme forward and have all twenty other fingers play rather quietly in the background. In the finale of the concerto, he played a resounding fortissimo which went deep into the keyboard to produce a ringing and resonant echo for the orchestra. It was quite a feat and he richly deserved the booming applause.

Dr. Schwartz spoke of the excitement of a premier on March 23, when the WCO will host the unveiling of a violin concerto composed specifically for the Wilmington Community Orchestra by English composer David Osbon, who came to hear them last year when they were rehearsing for another concert. The composer will conduct while the conductor plays the concerto.


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