CEDAR RAPIDS -- A full house greeted the terrific Orchestra Iowa Chamber Players, performing in the Opus Concert Cafe on Friday evening. (1/11/13) The concert will be repeated Saturday night in the intimate venue next to the Paramount Theatre, and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. The evening was adroitly programmed, presenting three of Europe's finest composers in chronological order: Jean-Marie LeClair, Luigi Boccherini and Felix Mendelssohn. In their music, we are sharing the music of the 18th and 19th centuries, from French, Italian and German composers. There is much to be appreciated in this program, with five string players and the balanced acoustics of this attractive venue. The details
  • Orchestra Iowa Chamber Players
  • Cedar Rapids: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, (1/12), Opus Concert Cafe, 119 Third Ave. SE
  • Coralville: 2:30 p.m. Sunday (1/13), Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St.
  • Tickets: $20, Orchestra Iowa Box Office, (319) 366-8203, 1-(800) 369-8863 or Orchestraiowa.org
The highlight of the evening was the playing of Tricia Park, a superb young violinist, performing with passion and with remarkable accuracy of tone. When it's her turn to attack, she goes for it. Park remained in balance with the other players, and the sound was blended well, indeed. I particularly enjoyed her work in Boccherini's Trio for Two Violins and Cello in D minor. Boccherini was not always well regarded as a composer in his time, and was referred to as "Haydn's Wife." Yes, there is Haydn in his work, as well as a bit of Johann Sebastian Bach. But I disagree with the opinion. Boccherini, in this piece at least, is a startlingly good composer. It helps to have fine performances by Carey Bostian, Karla Galva and Park, who were listening ever so carefully to each other. The dynamics of the piece were intelligently sought out and celebrated. Boccherini was a brilliant cellist, and has written a very satisfying part for Bostian, who always satisfies as a performer. The Mendelssohn quintet was powerful as well, particularly the second (Andante scherzando) and third (Adagio e lento) movements. The excellent program notes by Joseph and Elizabeth Kahn point out that the composer was never happy with the fourth and final movement of the work (Allegro molto vivace), and I can hear why. The two movements that proceed it are incredibly sensitive. The "lento" movement is sad, mournful and plaintive. It's like the remembrance of a grandmother you loved dearly. The final movement that comes after this wonderfully realized section is suddenly spry and peppy, and doesn't emotionally resolve the sections that have proceeded it. Perhaps formula got the best of Mendelssohn, as we always expect a stirring, upbeat finale? Half the audience lept to their feet at the end, so it does work on some level. I was intrigued by the LeClair work that began the evening, as he was a ballet dancer, as well as a violinist and composer. The work is slight, almost thin, but with the up-and-down runs of the Baroque sound. It does make you want to dance. Apparently the composer had a "dark side." He bought a house in dangerous part of Paris and died of stab wounds in the back. Was the murder at the hand of his ex-wife or a jealous nephew? We don't exactly know, but it would make an intriguing film.