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National Philharmonic’s strings deliver ebullient warmth

11.29.15
Chee-Yun
Washington Post

Even pared down to chamber proportions, the National Philharmonic strings can muster impressive warmth and breadth. Their program at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, on Saturday opened with Sibelius’s threemovement suite, “Rakastava” (“The Lover”), and ended with the Tchaikovsky Serenade for String Orchestra, Op. 48. In both, a cello section of just four players produced impassioned expanses of gorgeous color while the upper strings, sounding clean and transparent, floated above them.

The Tchaikovsky work, by contrast, was urgent and lusty, and the orchestra did both well. Nestled between these two was the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K. 218, with CheeYun as soloist. She plays a Stradivarius on loan, and the two are a good pair. She has a splendid bowarm and great dramatic instincts, and the instrument sings for her with that ineffable Strad sweetness. The orchestra, though, with pairs of oboes and French horns added to the strings, stuck with its more generalized ways, never quite matching the violin’s clarity or incisiveness. CheeYun tore through her preintermission encore, the Fritz Kreisler “Recitativo and Scherzo,” with joyful abandon, eliciting an inevitable standing ovation. 

Read the rest of the review here