CityMusic Cleveland and listeners brave weather for holiday program
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer, December 08, 2010
Dear CityMusic Cleveland,
What in the world were you thinking when you decided to go ahead with your holiday concert Wednesday night at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights?
Didn’t you notice the piles of fluffy white stuff outside? Didn’t you realize that I could have stayed happily ensconced by my fireplace eating hot broth while fending off obnoxious spirits?
Imagine my surprise when I actually began to enjoy your performance. What an excellent chamber orchestra you are. So cohesive and polished. And your guest conductor, Mr. Joel Smirnoff, really threw himself into the music with your bonny string players and harpischordist.
I must say your violin soloist, Miss Kyung Sun Lee, made quite a ravishing thing of the concertos that constitute Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Whether we needed to be reminded of frigid climatic elements in the “Winter” movements is another matter.
But Miss Lee trilled so beautifully, shaped those luscious tunes with shimmering sound and negotiated the technical tricks as if they were the simplest of feats.
Mr. Smirnoff turned me into a Tchaikovsky fan with his sweeping and plummy account of the Serenade for Strings. What melodies! What ardent interplay of instruments! What first-rate artistry!
The last segment of the program threatened to find me standing and shouting, “Bah, Handel.” But then Miss Chabrelle Williams, a soprano, began to send gleaming tones through the church in two arias from “Messiah,” and I was smitten.
Strangely, only the second half of “He shall feed his flock” was included, though the entirety of “Rejoice greatly” persuaded me to do exactly that. And when Miss Williams floated that high note in “O Holy Night,” the encore, well, I was transformed.
I didn’t deserve to be so happy, but the program made me feel as giddy as a schoolboy. What’s more, despite the fact that I love free concerts, I was inspired to drop a little contribution into the basket, as were others who braved the elements.