Together. New Century Chamber Orchestra, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, music director.

08.01.10
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Strings Magazine

By Greg Cahill

In her second year as concertmaster of the conductorless New Century Chamber Orchestra, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg continues to bring vitality to this already accomplished and acclaimed ensemble. Her debut album with the NCCO has a Latin flavor, thanks to selections by tango master Astor Piazzolla and Brazilian musician and composer Clarice Assad. In her liner notes, Salerno-Sonnenberg states that her goal was to choose music with one common element: strong emotions. She has succeeded.

The CD kicks off with a world premiere recording of Impressions: Suite for Chamber Orchestra, an often playful Gershwinesque workout by longtime Salerno-Sonnenberg collaborator Assad. It is a clever, yet highly musical exercise that allows the talented members of the democratic NCCO to shine.

The concertmaster solos on a rendering of Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, which is most often recorded in tandem with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances showcases a pair of soloists: cellist Susan Babini and violist Anna Kruger. Salerno-Sonnenberg returns to solo again on the Jascha Heifetz arrangement of Gershwin’s “Bess You Is My Woman Now,” from Porgy & Bess. Other noteworthy solos are performed by bassist Anthony Manzo and cellist Michelle Djokic.

There is a warm, romantic feeling to much of this music, and despite the considerable technical demands of these bravura pieces, the music and those strong emotions are never overshadowed.