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Published: Monday, 3/3/2008

Symphony review: Pianist, flutist fill club with glorious music

BY SALLY VALLONGO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Club s beautiful dining room and even the little balcony overlooking it was filled last night for the third of the Blade Chamber Concerts presented by the Toledo Symphony. How nice to have this historic landmark bustling on a winter evening.

This series draws a loyal and enthusiastic following, season after season, and for good reason. Its four intimate concerts feature players who often are mere faces in the crowd during full orchestra events in the Classics and Pops series, and Mozart and More concerts.

Last night s full house may have been because of fans of local pianist Frances Renzi, who performed in two of the three works on the program. And there may have been more than a few eager to hear flutist Joel Tse.

Or, the eclectic playlist Beethoven, Franck, and Stravinsky may have been the draw.

Whatever, it was an evening of major keys, major works, and very few minor notes.

Highlighting the program was Tse, principal flutist, who put his sensational warm and flexible sound and flawless technique to work bringing to life Cesar Franck s romantic Sonata for Flute and Piano in A Major.

Written originally for violin, it is a favorite transcription for flutists as well.

Renzi, who first performed it with concertmaster Kirk Toth in 1994, returned to accompany Tse.

Really, accompaniment only tells part of the piano story in this work delivering its thematic complexity is musical shared parenting.

Clearly Renzi and Tse shared a single concept. The result was a glorious, seamless, flawless performance worthy of the standing ovation it received.

Renzi returned to the stage with Toth and principal cello Martha Reikow for a work of equal if separate charms: Beethoven s Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, known as Ghost for the mysterious bass rumblings Renzi produced in the middle movement.

Although there were a few uncertainties in the partnership of Toth and Reikow, the overall effect was one of fine ensemble, sensitive attention to the delicacies of Beethoven s music, and well balanced tone.

The evening opened on a slightly shakier note, caused in part by the work itself Stravinsky s oddly voiced Octet for Wind Instruments and to some uncertain entrances and exits by the players.

Flutist Amy Heritage, clarinetist Georg Klaas, bassoonists Gabriel Bergeron-Langlois and Joan Weiler, trumpets Lauraine Carpenter and Mel Harsh, and trombonists Garth Simmons and Daniel Harris were clearly well prepared, yet the overall effect was less rambunctious than it might have been.

Still, as a balance for the rest of the program, the Stravinsky was a great choice.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.



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