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Joshua Roman & Simone Porter

Review: Sarasota Orchestra plays ‘Sounds of Nobility’ concert with regal virtuosity


By Edward Alley

If there was ever any doubt about the versatility and virtuosity of the players of the Sarasota Orchestra, it was completely laid to rest this week in the fifth installment of the Masterworks concert series, led by guest conductor Bramwell Tovey.

The program, titled”Sounds of Nobility,” included the “Rob Roy Overture” of Hector Berlioz, the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, ending with the First Symphony of British composer Sir William Walton.

Guest conductor was the venerable Bramwell Tovey, who recently completed a long tenure as music director of the Vancouver Symphony and is a regular guest conductor of most every major orchestra in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC orchestras, and on and on. He conducts with economy of gesture, but his eagle eyes are always focussed on the players and the next cue to be given. I’ve witnessed his work several times in the past, and find him one of the most musical conductors around today.

The Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello featured violinist Simone Porter and cellist Joshua Roman in an outstanding performance of Brahms’ final orchestral work. These exciting young soloists had never performed together before this engagement, yet they played with a synergistic enthusiasm that is seldom found, even in more veteran performers.

Roman’s cello playing features a full-bodied sound throughout the range, and Porter matched him note for note in their extended passages together. The double cadenza in the first movement was beautifully played and set the tone for everything that followed. The Brahms Double uses the two solo instruments in the orchestral framework as a whole, rather than as a solo showcase, as in most concertos of the Romantic era. Both players were easily up to the technical and interpretive demands of the piece, and the lovely lyric theme of the 2nd movement soared through the hall, touching everyone with its sheer beauty.

Read the full review.