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Macelaru’s passionate Viva Espana!

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Verizon Hall, Philadelphia

Christan Macelaru, conductor

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Feb. 9, 2019

Before performing an encore, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet musician Bill Kanengiser, spoke of conductor Christan Macelaru’s artistic precision and passion he brings to Spanish repertoire. And those qualities were clearly present throughout as Maelaru led The Philadeldelphia Orchestra’s Viva Espana!  concert of works by Chabriel, Rodrigo, de Falla, and Ravel.  

Macelaru often introduces pieces to his audiences, but on this night, he skipped that and let the music speak for itself. Opening with
Emmanual Chabrier’s  España, which proved a rousing prologue, with traditional eternal Spanish folkloric themes.

Next, the captivating and profoundo musical dimensions of Joaquin Rodrigo’s  Concierto andaluz, for four guitars and orchestra. Its tempo de bolero opening movement, with its dancey central theme, played with esprit and inner drive. Rodrigo’s second movement Adagio, is so soulful and in this performance the LAGQ a dazzling showcase for their sublime technical artistry. The opening descending note passages by John Dearman then in dialogue with Bill Kanengiser, is transcendence in its earthy and ethereal musicality- suspending time, Rodrigo musically reflects on his life and the environs at gardens of an historic Renassaince palace in Granada,

The journey gives way to a more communal environ by Matt Greif and Scott Tennant in a lively town musicale scene expressed in orchestral riffs and a rousing roundelay of solo passages among the musicians. The quartet’s technical mastery is virtuosic and completely inside the music.  The concerto itself has the ambiance of a journey and the Adagio the musical soul of the piece, the final movement a fiery flamenco guitar finale.        

The foursome was applauded back to the stage for an encore, the Italian Tarantella by Chilean composer Horacio Salinas, which brought the house down again.  A rowdy crystalline rhythmic dazzler, interspersed with the musicians drumming the body of their instruments.

After intermission Macelaru delivered a most muscled performance of Manuel de Falla – El amor brujo, a sultry tone poem about a gypsy card reader who sees her future of love and evil spirits, musically expressed in folkloric ritual dances.  The pacing of this unpaused labyrinth of musical narrative about a gypsy card reader and the swirling furies of her life.

Ravel – Rapsodie espagnole Macelaru’s concert closer which the orchestra brought to its full atmospheric power.  Ravel was born 10 miles from the France-Spain border and his mother was Basque-Spanish. The musical sensual impact of Spanish nights, the symphonic bloom of Andalucian Fandango and Festiva. Macelaru’s detailing of the depth of sound dimension and inner rhythmic drive, that brings the full vision of Ravelean mystique. Among the many outstanding principals building that earthy musicality included associate concertmaster violinist Mark Rovetti, oboist Peter King, clarinet Ricardo Morales, cellist Hi Yi Ni, violist Choong-Jin Chang, 2nd chair principal violin Kimberly Fisher.