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Eric Jacobsen & Branford Marsalis

Review: Branford Marsalis brings lyricism, dexterity to Orlando Philharmonic opener

From the Orlando Sentinel

By Matthew J. Palm

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra kicked of its 27th season Saturday with a hefty dose of drama and a visit from noted musician Branford Marsalis.

Marsalis demonstrated is lovely tone quality on the “Ruckert Lieder” before displaying his dexterity on the far livelier “Concertino de camera” for alto saxophone and orchestra. Fingers a-flutter, Marsalis confidently flew through composer Jacques Ibert’s flamboyant solo section — making sure his virtuosity was that of musicianship, not showboating.

Virtuosity will be a theme of this Philharmonic season, music director Eric Jacobsen said at the start of the concert, with an emphasis on American masters of their art.

“I couldn’t imagine starting off the season with a more perfect American virtuoso,” Jacobsen said of Marsalis. “He has transformed what we’re doing.”

For his third appearance, Marsalis returned to Mahler with “Primeval Light,” the fourth movement of his “Resurrection” Symphony No. 2 in C minor. Marsalis’ playing remained lyrical — Jacobsen had earlier described it as “singing” — and showed a gentleness of touch, a lightness you don’t always hear in a sax.

Read the full review.