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Center Stage: A rousing bravo to season ending performance

By Staff | Apr 1, 2015

The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin ended this season’s Community Concerts on a very high note indeed. The thrilled audience would not let this world-class chamber orchestra leave the stage of the Barbara B. Mann Theater ’til they generously gave us not one but three encores (the last being about four wonderful renditions of Happy Birthday played as a tango, a waltz a la Strauss, a gallop, to honor Berne Davis, our Community Concerts underwriter on her 101st birthday). This was the premiere performance of this amazing orchestra for this series, and I am sure not the last time Community Concerts will present this orchestra.

To give you a little background on this chamber orchestra; it was founded by music director Misha Rachlevsky in 1991, right after the heady political events that took place in Moscow and Russia in general. Conductor Rachlevesky left his native Russia in 1973, lived and worked in different countries and different continents ’til he settled in the U.S. in 1976, when he founded the New American Chamber Orchestra (NACO).

This unique chamber orchestra gained international prominence and eventually NACO became the resident orchestra of Granada Spain, after a two year project there. Then a Swiss record company, Claves, contacted Rachlevsky to record some Russian works for their label in ’91. At Rachlevsky’s suggestion that the recording company use Russian musicians, they readily agree. Soon auditions were held and the result of which lead to the creation of The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin. The success of this new orchestra’s recordings and the initial concerts and tours that followed led to turning this chamber orchestra’s formation into a permanent, full-time ensemble, which is now in its 23rd season. And let me tell you the music world is much richer for it. As a matter of fact, if you are really interested to hear and see them for yourself, get on YouTube, type in Chamber Orchestra Kremlin and judge for yourself.

This chamber orchestra has been critically acclaimed as one of the finest string ensembles in Russia today, which is to suggest that it is arguably one of the best in the world. This esteemed group consists of seven violins, three violas, three cellos, and one double bass. Most of the musicians are young, and it has only two of the original members left (one of which is the concert master); that having been said, each member of the orchestra is a solo artist which was proven at the end of the concert (but more about that later).

The program entitled “Tchaikovsky and more” opened with a brilliantly performed rendition of Gioacchino Rossini’s Sonata in C major, No. 3. This delightful piece was played concisely, precisely, wittily with the kind of effervescence that is Rossini’s signature.

Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives, Op. 22 which followed went on to prove that this once again was what Prokofiev is famous for; music that is haunting, with many moods and colors, reminding one of a fairytale told in musical terms. Needless to say the chamber group captured all the musical nuances which once again captivated the audience completely.

After a short intermission we were in for a special supplementary treat when Maestro Rachlevsky added Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony Melancholic,” another thoughtful serenade for strings, but in a slightly different mood; this piece featured the orchestra’s concert master.

After much thunderous applause, the orchestra launched into Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Op. 48. I must tell you that this is one of my all-time favorite Tchaikovsky orchestral pieces; and one I danced when I was with NYC Ballet. “Serenade” was the ballet I loved most to perform, more than any other ballet in the repertoire.

I must say hearing The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin’s rendition brought back not only happy memories but turned on the tears, for I have never ever heard it so sweepingly or beautifully played. Not only did I yell “Bravo” to the rafters but the entire audience was up on its feet and cheering this outstanding orchestra.

Their first encore was a thrilling performance of “The Flight of the Bumble Bee,” followed by Maestro Rachlevsky asking an audience member to come up on the stage, to choose any member of the orchestra to play a solo (that is what I meant when I said each member of the orchestra is a soloist in his/her own right). At any rate the gentleman from the audience chose the double bass player who performed a solo aria on the bass, from a Glinka opera augmented by the full chamber players.

No doubt about it, this performance proved that indeed each member of this chamber group is a master of their particular instrument. The evening ended with that Happy Birthday rendition for Berne Davis that I referred to earlier, which then sent us all home thrilled as well as satisfied.

So in closing: “Thank you, Community Concerts,” it has been another terrific season of great concerts and I am putting in my bid early to have The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin back again as soon as possible.

Let me urge you to get your bid in early for next season’s 2016 concerts. Tickets for five concerts range from $165 in orchestra and mezzanine, lower balcony $85, upper balcony $65. Where can you see five concerts for those prices? Start the ball rolling by phoning (239) 693-4849 now.

Remind ’em when you phone Marsha sent you!