8 Seasons in the Northwest

Tango Fire

On Friday, October 9th, the Northwest Sinfonietta performed Antonio Vivaldi’s Quattro Stagioni (“The Four Seasons”), featuring Adam LaMotte, and Astor Piazzolla’s Las Cuatros Estaciones Porteños (“The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”) arranged by Leonid Desyatnikov, featuring James Garlick. Both soloists did a spectacular job of capturing the essence of their respective concerti. The balance of LaMotte’s delicate playing with his period violin made in 1730 by Bernardo Calcagni was especially helpful in depicting the Baroque style of the four concerti that make up Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. Garlick’s rendition of the Piazzolla was fiery and full of spirit, much like the tango dance that inspired the work. Both sets of concerti also showcased the mature, well-versed Northwest Sinfonietta string orchestra. The timbre of the blended strings in the Vivaldi warmed the hall and created an atmosphere one might have heard in the days of Schubertiades.

Adam LaMotte really shined during the lyrical passages, especially during the Largo of the “Winter” concerto. The musicality he added to the flowing melody gave the piece momentum and helped propel the orchestra into a turbulent Allegro movement. LaMotte’s excited flourishes in the following Allegro happened so quickly and were so fluid, the transition to the gentler sections in between the violent outcries were seamless. Also of note, is Elizabeth D. Brown’s performance on the Baroque guitar and Archlute. The addition of both period instruments helped add to the ambiance of the performance and the contrast of the plucked strings with the bowings of the rest of the orchestra was a very nice textural compliment.

James Garlick gave an excellent performance after intermission. Fresh from the Oberlin Conservatory, Garlick brought an infectious energy into the concert hall. His performance was very similar to that of a tango performer: firm yet affectionate, strong willed yet sensitive. From the onset of the opening solo, Garlick establishes the mood of the concerto and flies through the virtuosic passages with musicality and grace. His performance was especially poignant when he dug into the chromatics of the simpler melodies and gave the unadorned music a voice all its own. The ending of the final movement was a great roar from the whole orchestra. Gritty, dirty, and determined, the orchestra aggressively danced to the end of the work in triumph – similar to the ending of Vivaldi’s “Winter” concerto. Additionally, Mara Finkelstein played a beautiful cello solo during the second movement , “Otoño porteño” (“Autumn”). Her rich sound filled the hall and the timbre of the solo violin combined with the solo cello was wonderful.

The conductor, Christophe Chagnard, mentioned the beautiful sunset that he saw on his way to the concert hall that Friday evening. So much of the concert reminded me of the beauty in nature and life. It was truly a magnificent evening.

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