Concert review: Stellar end to concert series

Louis Roney

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On Monday, Aug. 18, in the Plaza Live Theater the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster Rimma Bergeron-Langlois played violin with violinist Alexander Stevens, violist Mauricio Céspedes Rivero, cellist David Bjella, bassoonist Gabriel Bergeron-Langlois, and pianist Keiko Andrews in a program that signaled a break in the OPO schedule until Sept. 20. The players’ excellent performing standards on their instruments were the outstanding virtues of the evening.

Rimma described her choice of program as: “Each piece was composed (concomitantly) with a hardship in the composers life, and thankfully, their hardship resulted in great music that is intimate, heartrending, profound and filled with grace.”

The main negative in the concert, from our seats in the back of the hall, was our difficulty in hearing all that the players were doing. For some quite puzzling reason, the string quartet chose to play standing up and on the stages’ left corner. Acoustical weaknesses in the Plaza Live Theater were for the first time revealed and even magnified. Inaudible passages occurred in softly orchestrated music whose quiet passages needed a light, delicate touch but were frequently lost.

No matter, Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 2 in A-minor, which was the program opener, was beautifully played throughout.

Next came Mikhail Glinka, whose Piano Trio “Pathetique,” was a treat of splashy, tuneful instrumental fabric, easy to listen to and enjoy. Bassoon soloist Gabriel Bergeron-Langlois played with a beautiful virtuoso sound that, alas, was often hard to hear. Pianist Keiko Andrews played with her usual striking, colorful technical ease that arouses wonder in her audiences. The rare pleasure of hearing a piano, violin and bassoon in combination was a memorable treat.

While singing in Germany, I had a musician friend who was a celebrated Beethoven specialist. I had not heard all of Beethoven’s final quartets, which my friend knew intimately. I remember his warning to me that Beethoven’s last quartets make difficult listening and maybe do not earn the dedicated ears they demand. Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A-minor closed the OPO players’ program and was given a performance of precision and respect. The players of the OPO quartet made up of Bergeron-Langlois, Stevens, Rivero and Bjella, are uniformly excellent and I look forward to more hearings.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, Beethoven’s quartet No. 15 proved to be somewhat unwieldy, and certainly a bit too long for its own good.

The evening deserves to be remembered particularly for wonderful artist Rimma Bergeron-Langlois’ memorable commanding moments of stellar violin artistry.

See you Sept. 20 at the Bob Carr to begin another season of great music!