February 23, 2006

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CLASSICAL REVIEWS
Reviews by Irene Labombarde news@hippopress.com

A mid-winter French toast
Nashua Chamber Orchestra visits France
Review:Under the direction of David Feltner, the Nashua Chamber Orchestra performed an inspired concert before a standing-room-only crowd on Feb. 19 at the Milford Town Hall auditorium. (The same performance was also played the prior evening at Daniel Webster College in Nashua.)

“A French Toast” featured seldom-heard works by late 19th century French composers Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saens, and Charles Gounod and offered the novelty of hearing an 11-year-old prodigy play a cello concerto.

Opening the program was the Saint-Saens Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Cello and Orchestra, featuring Jonah Park Ellsworth as soloist. This young cellist has already won several competitions, including the Longy School of Music Preparatory School concerto competition and the 2004 New England String Ensemble concerto competition. He plays with a poise and passion that belie his age.

Feltner took some time before each piece to educate the audience about certain themes or features. Since these pieces were unfamiliar even to some of us seasoned concert goers, this helped make the program more accessible and enjoyable. He had different sections play a main or secondary theme and show how they were intertwined.

Mezzo-soprano Krista River sang the hauntingly beautiful pieces from Berlioz’ “Les Nuits d’été” (Summer Nights) with an intense, smooth voice, clear diction and excellent French accent. A more theatrical singer could have ruined the delicate balance between voice and light orchestration. But she expressed the mournful emotions of the pieces without getting overly dramatic, and delighted in the happier moments.

There are two concerts remaining in NCO’s season, a children’s concert on April 8 at the Nashua Public Library, and “Lasting Gifts” June 3 and 4, featuring music of Mozart, Wagner and Schubert. For more information, go to nco-music.com.

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02/16/2006 Nashua Symphony Performs Brahms • Matzerath performs Bach