Principals’ heros in Orchestra matinee

The Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, conducting, James Ehnes, violin, Verizon Halll, Kimmel Center, February 9-11, 2012, Review of Feb. 10m for WRTI, 90.1 fm.

Canadian James Ehnes (pronounce Innes) has a winning tone and presence that made his Mendelssohn Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op. 64 with the Philadelphians a particular pleasure Friday afternoon at the Kimmel Center.

The young man looked at ease in his grey suit and red tie — no fuss no bother –and that’s how the music sounded as he bowed out the familiar, flowing melodies, and that engaging Allegro  finale.

As elegant and unfussy were the six men and hornist Jennifer Montone  who walked on first at Verizon Hall  for Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Percussion and String Orchestra. The Swiss work, composed in 1949, is a knockout  – elegant and by turns ebullient and the orchestra principals played the heck out of it.

Lttle needs be repeated about the excellence of Jeffrey Khaner’s flute or Richard Woodhams’s sterling oboe.  Ricardo Montales’s clarinet on Friday was also way past snuff; Daniel Matsukawa’s  bassoon was especially poignant. To Montone’s attentive horn add the luster of Nitzan Haroz’s trombone. Haroz leaves us in August when he takes a post with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a terrible loss.  Principal trumpet David Bilger also performed. Bilger goes off and on to a teaching post in another state but the hope is he will remain with the Philadelphians.

The Board and this community must step up the game to keep the Philadelphians Orchestra intact and competitive.

Bartok’s bold Concerto  for Orchestra  was the after- intermission guest. Charles Dutoit led its leaps and turns and tumult  – grandly and securely.

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