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Glazunov Violin Concerto Highlight of CSO Concert
Contributing Writer, Cape Cod Times
(Excerpted from a review published May 11, 2004)

...But whether it was due to the sympathetically glowing rendition of guest artist Ayako Yoshida or the merits of the work itself, Sunday afternoon's presentation of the composer's elegant Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82, by the Cape Symphony Orchestra certainly struck a responsive chord in the hometown audience, stirring them to prolonged, heartfelt applause.

A consummate musician herself, the Japanese-born Yoshida — an international prize-winning young concert artist who trained at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia — was a joy to hear and see. She played Glazunov's by turns, warmly expressive and virtuosically sparkling concerto with a sense of complete identification with and love for the work, which, of course, communicated itself immediately to the audience.

Orchestra members, too, seemed to especially appreciate Yoshida's keen awareness of the intricately interwoven orchestral part. She occasionally cast a beaming smile toward the orchestra as trickily configurated cadazalike passages, under maestro Royston Nash's astute guidance, interconnected with wisps of woodwind or string solos to merge imperceptibly into the ensuing section. The three-part concerto was virtually seamless, with no pauses between movements.

The 85-member orchestra gallantly waded through Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's eminently memorable Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique"), managing to bring off the lilting second movement "waltz" (it's actually in 5/4 metre) with considerable panache and lush, romantic sound. Nash's tempos were thoughtfully chosen, his clear and careful direction obviously informed by close study and love of the score.

Nash opened the orchestra's final concert of the season with American iconoclastic composer Charles Ives's series of colorful, often bombastic and humorous, variations on the beloved national hymn, "America."

Mahler Brings Cape Symphony to Life
Contributing Writer, Cape Cod Times
(Excerpted from a review published April 6, 2004)

Served up as the main fare on last weekend's artfully prepared program by the Cape Symphony Orchestra, Mahler's 4th symphony, often referred to as "Ode to Heavenly Joy," was teeming with colorful orchestral life. There were the pleasant musings and passionate statements of the strings, sprightly dialogues among the busy woodwinds, brisk commentary and hearty salutes from the brass, and a myriad of percussion effects, from sleigh bells and glockenspiel to tam-tams and booming bass drum. And, of course, there were the heavenly sounds of the harp.

Orchestra principals relished their individual opportunities to shine. The glowing sound of the French horn, wonderfully played by principal hornist Daniel Bloor, was like an interwoven golden thread that emerged at strategic intervals to light the way. Whole sections were highlighted in extended passages that showcased their strengths. The lower strings, especially the cohesive, sonorous cellos, were emotionally stirring in their extended arialike passages.

Suffice it to say the 85-member orchestra, under the inspired direction of Royston Nash, gave one of its most satisfying performances of the past few seasons. More than a few in Sunday afternoon's near-capacity audience were left teary-eyed by the warmly expressive third movement adagio, which Mahler considered the finest slow movement he had written. Dynamics were scrupulously observed by Nash: Fortes were rich and full-bodied, while pianissimos were whisper-soft.

Boston-based soprano Mara Bonde sang the 4th movement text with wit, clarity and commitment, but not until the last section did her voice acquired the radiant aura the song demands.

On the contrary, the personable soprano's artful interpretation of Samuel Barber's nostalgic, atmospheric "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" (text by James Agee) was a joy. Her voice had just the right mixture of freshness and elan to evoke the character of the observant young Agee relaxing outdoors with his elders on a warm summer evening in his hometown.

The program opened with a vigorous, clean-cut rendition of Giuseppe Verdi's military-flavored, often bombastic Overture to his 1855 opera, "I Vespri Siciliani" (The Sicilian Vespers).

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