Review: Equal parts lightness and sorrow from Northwest Sinfonietta in Puyallup

Eric Jacobsen
The News Tribune

It was astonishingly fitting — though not planned — that the Northwest Sinfonietta played the program they did at Puyallup’s Pioneer Park Pavilion last Sunday (and prior in Seattle and Tacoma). After a week of shocking violence in Paris and the life-affirming support that rose up around the world in its wake, Sunday afternoon’s concert traversed a broad field of human experience, from the simple joy of Rossini and Schubert to the deep sorrow of Verdi, with some profound meditation in between from Morton Feldman and Osvaldo Golijov. Even better, the orchestra rose above the unsubtle acoustics of the Pavilion to produce a nuanced, unified sound.

But the highlight of the afternoon came next: “She was Here,” the superbly orchestrated 2008 homage to Schubert songs by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. With incredibly sensitive accompaniment from Jacobsen and the ensemble, soprano Jennifer Bromagen pulled every emotion out of those ineffable Schubert melodies, infusing them with a rich, peaceful depth of both tone and humanity. To ethereal flutes and sul tasto violins in “Nur Wer Die Sehnsucht Kennt” she threaded her phrasing with yearning; over low woodwinds, shimmering violins and water-glasses in “Nacht und Träume” she imbued the words with immense dynamic control and tenderness. Throughout, Jacobsen sculpted Golijov’s unexpected, Mahlerian scorings into a cloud of sound.

And as a tribute encore, the devastating lament of the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 echoed through the Pavilion, expressing what most of the West is also affirming right now — that creativity, harmony and beauty will prevail.
Read the rest of the review here