Mesmerizing Suk, Fiery Dvorák from the Canton Symphony Orchestra

02.26.15
Joshua Roman
ClevelandClassical.com

By Tom Wachunas

That same spirit of being caught up and captured was powerfully evident in guest artist Joshua Roman’s performance of Antonin Dvorák’s beloved Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra in B minor. There must be an old soul behind Roman’s boyish countenance, for he played as if at one with the passionate heart of Dvorák himself.

Among the many remarkable aspects here was the uncanny sense of cellist and orchestra being inextricably united without one ever overpowering the other. Yet Roman was at once the inspired, fiery leader and accompanist. At times he eyed various sections of the orchestra between his solo passages, listening and looking intently, encouragingly. And those solo passages? Whether in soaring legato mode or in his crisp arpeggiations replete with thrilling instrumental effects, Roman’s technique was so breathtaking that he often appeared to visibly swoon over the music’s dramatic sweep, its melodic eloquence and lush harmonic colors.

You’d think that, after such a fierce exposition of soulful abandon, Roman would be utterly spent. But he regaled the enthralled house with an encore best described as a spontaneous combustion of styles, performed with all the intensity of a rock guitar soloist. This was a dazzlingly fast, improvisatory romp through folksy fiddling, furious strumming and chording, and staccato percussive effects I never thought possible with a cello. Was that smoke I saw rising from his bow?

Read the full review here.