The Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra decided to try something new this summer. For those of us who don’t head north, they planned three “Staycation” concerts. The first was held last night in—gasp!—Cape Coral. They chose just the right venue. Faith Presbyterian Church has wonderful acoustics for a chamber-size string ensemble.
Maestro Nir Kabaretti is proving himself a master of programming. He chose to contrast and alternate the well-known Four Seasons by Vivaldi with Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla written some 200 years later.
The former featured violinist Nikki Chooi who played a 1700 Stradivarius on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts with great verve. The piano soloist for the Piazzolla, Alexandra Carlson, also served as harpsichordist for the Vivaldi. Quite an accomplishment to switch instruments, styles, and centuries with aplomb.
Maybe my ears were playing tricks on me, but it seemed the tempi in much of the Vivaldi were slightly exaggerated. The slower sections were lushly legato without dragging. The faster movements were executed at dazzling speed.
Both concertmaster Reiko Niiya and first chair cellist Susannah Kelly were in good form in solo and duet work interspersed within the pieces. Niiya also contributed a percussive technique during the Piazzolla that I don’t remember ever hearing done before. It’s not easy doing jazz-infused tango music without a percussion section, I would imagine. Bass player Alex Albanese laid down a steady beat not only on the strings of his instrument but also by tapping it on occasion.
Two more performances of this concert are planned. Tonight is at Shell Point; Friday is at the Sidney & Berne Davis Center. And take note, Cape residents. Run out concerts are also scheduled at Faith Presbyterian on Jan. 15 and March 22, 2016