|Photo by Autumn deWilde|
The orchestra, under music director Salvador Brotons, opened the concert with Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” in the popular orchestral arrangement by Robert Russell Bennett. The lush strings at the beginning strains of “Summertime” caused the entire hall to erupt with smiles and good times rolled onward with the jaunty “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,’” “Oh I Can’t Sit Down,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” A willowy segue by principal cellist Dieter Ratzlaf nicely landed the ensemble in a sultry rendition of “Bess You is My Woman” and the finale “O Lawd I’m On My Way” struck a wonderfully grand tone.
After intermission, Brotons led the ensemble in a sensitive interpretation of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” Suite. Highlights of the performance included marvelous solos by concertmaster Eva Richey, principal flutist Rachel Rencher, principal oboist Karen Strand, and principal clarinetist Igor Shakhman. It should be noted that Shakhman also nailed the wonderfully wild opening statement in “Rhapsody in Blue” and, that piece, principal trombonist Greg Scholl created some of the best wa-wa sounds that I have heard anywhere.
For the final piece on the program, the orchestra took listeners south of the border with another Copland piece, “En Salon Mexico.” The folksy dance tunes received colorful performances that made this piece fun to hear. The sleepy trumpet of principal Bruce Dunn helped to evoke the tipsy dance band segment. Principal bassoonist Margaret McShea had a field day with her solos as did Shakhman. The percussion battery had a fine day as well, but they should’ve hit the bass drum more emphatically.