Review: Louisville Orchestra Closes 2014-15 Season with Time for Three

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(Photo credit LeAnn Mueller)

The Louisville Orchestra concludes its 2014-2015 season this week featuring Time for Three, John Williams’ The Cowboys overture and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Op. 67.

The Cowboys overture is everything you want from a western film score and John Williams: driving string melodies, brass fanfares, evocative percussion and folksy woodwind tunes. The Louisville Orchestra played it as cleanly and effortlessly as any Hollywood studio orchestra.

Violinists Zachary DePue and Nicholas Kendall, and bassist Ranaan Meyer, collectively known as Time for Three, gave an electric performance of their signature arrangements that are filled with improvisation and jams. With no shortage of charisma and stage presence, the virtuosic trio was a crowd pleaser and didn’t shy away from engaging, even verbally, with the Thursday morning audience.

The set arranged and re-imagined several popular songs, from Leonard Cohen’s oft-covered “Hallelujah” and the bluegrass tune “Orange Blossom Special,” to Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man” and an amalgam of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Justin Timberlake’s “Cry me a River.” (Yes, you read that last phrase correctly.) The most successful arrangements involved the orchestra more than just as a backup band, as in Vittorio Monti’s Czardas, a Hungarian folk-inspired showpiece. The orchestra arrangement was colorful and supportive, but also fun for the ensemble. Concertmaster Michael Davis was even allowed to cut loose for a solo. The creative Barber/Timberlake mashup made eloquent use of the strings’ lyrical and percussive qualities. Other arrangements were less fulfilling, pushing the orchestra to an almost inaudible level in the background. This is something you can expect on a pops concert, but not during a mainstay subscription performance.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 isn’t a quiet one. It can be easily generalized as loud and vigorous, but hidden in the details are delicate, quiet moments. Playing loud is easy, playing soft is difficult, because the latter requires more refinement, if the music is to come across as cleanly, similar to edging the window sill instead of painting the wall with a roller. Playing loud takes care, too, and the orchestra or Abrams never lost control.

The orchestra created a seamless connection between the brash and subtle music, assured that even the details would stand out. Abrams’ tempo decisions were appropriately on the edge of too fast — the right place for Beethoven’s fifth. The final movement was triumphant and exhilarating, and speaking of details: the slight lingering on the third chord in the final movement’s opening fanfare (and its subsequent returns) was hair-raising.

The Louisville Orchestra, Time for Three and Teddy Abrams perform this program again on the final concert of the 2014-2015 Saturday at 8pm in Whitney Hall.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw

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Classical 90.5 and Kentucky Shakespeare are proud to present “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw, recorded live at the Kentucky Center for the Arts Bomhard Theater in front of a live, studio audience. Listen below or download!

Time for Three Visits Louisville

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The trio Time for Three – Nick Kendall, violin, Zach De Pue, violin and Ranaan Meyer, Double Bass – is appearing with the Louisville Orchestra on April 23 and 25 at the Kentucky Center. Classical 90.5’s Alan Brandt talked to the group about their origins and their new recording.

Brooklyn Rider In-Studio

Brooklyn Rider 5 by Sarah Small

(Photo credit Sarah Small)

Prokofiev Shines in Louisville orchestra broadcast

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Jorge Mester conducts and Robert Thies is the pianist in our next broadcast of the Louisville Orchestra on Classical 90.5, Thursday at 8 pm. Thies, who will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, is the first American pianist to win a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn’s famed triumph in Moscow in 1958. Jorge Mester hails Robert “a genius.”

Peter Illych Tchaikovsky’s emotional Symphony No. 6 is also on the program. Mester conducts the work on the heels of his last appearance which included Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. The maestro says the latter work was influenced by Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Hector Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture begins the broadcast. Read Daniel Gilliam’s review of this Louisville Orchestra performance here.