Friday, May 14, 2010

Nicholas Kraemer Takes Colorado Symphony Back to the Palaces of Europe with Enchanging Evening of Baroque Music

Music of the Baroque period was either funded by the church or the nobility. In many respects listening to this music is like taking a time machine back to when stately parties and fancy dress was all in an evenings entertainment. With a knack for the nuances of baroque music, Nicholas Kraemer conducted the Colorado Symphony Orchestra through a delightful concert of some great music.

Opening with the Suite from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, Maestro Kraemer allowed the intimate beauty of a chamber ensemble fill Boettcher Hall. Sweeping his hands to guide the orchestra, Kraemer brought to life the subtle shifts not necessarily notated in the music, adding depth and flow to the piece. There were sparkling solo violin moments with Concertmaster Yumi Hwang-Williams, and other times when the entire violin section flavored the music with rich swells of sound.

Corelli, the father of the Concerto, was next on the program with the Colorado Symphony performing his Concerto Grosso in F major. As Kraemer pointed out in his brief talk before the second half of the concert, Corelli's Concerto Grosso is filled with texture but not necessarily melody, technique but not sweeping storyline. It was wonderful listening to Ms Hwang-Williams and Principal Second Violinist Paul Primus play off each other. They matched styles so well it was impossible to tell from sound alone who was playing when.

The first half of the program finished with Bach's Suite No. 3 in D major. The small chamber ensemble was enhanced with timpani and trumpets which added a delightful color to the evening. William Hill, Principal Percussionist, did well to keep the timpani at just the right level, adding punch to moments in the music without ever being obtrusive. And yet, there were also times when he allowed the drums to ring out with all their glory.

The second movement is one of the most famous pieces of music of all time, re-written and known as Air on a G-string. However, played with the entire ensemble Nicholas Kraemer gave more punch and vitality to the normally lush, sweeping melody. This made a familiar work fresh and come alive as I've not heard before.

The final Gigue was a glorious movement for the trumpet section. It is unfair to only mention Justin Bartels on Principal Trumpet when the entire section did so well to adding their color to the music. However, it was the piccolo trumpet played by Mr Bartels that really cut through with the high notes, dominating when it needed to and yet blending perfect the rest of the time.

Nicholas Kraemer gave a brief talk to open the second half of the concert, describing the difference between the texture rich Corelli concerto and the tuneful Handel concerto. Handel's Concerto Grosso in B-flat major gave numerous instrumentalists a chance to shine. Again, Ms Hwang-Williams and Mr Primus demonstrated their virtuosity as part of soloist element in the concerto. Peter Cooper, Principal Oboest was featured in the Largo with a sumptuous oboe performance. The Cellists Silver Ainomae and Matthew Switzer with Bassoonist Chad Cognata were also featured in Handel's rich work.

Before the audience could quell their enthusiasm for Nicholas Kraemer, he started the final piece of the evening, Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. Majestic and rich, opulent yet nuanced, Kraemer plied the orchestra through this grand work which again features the amazing trumpet section and percussion, but also gives a chance for the horns to really shine. This is grand music written for a celebration at the end of a war, but also to accompany fireworks as requested by the King of England. Royal music with all the pomp and pageantry of the age. This was anything but just another stuffy concert of old, forgotten music. Nicholas Kraemer brings new life and vitality to Baroque music and with the talented Colorado Symphony Orchestra they create a rich musical experience.

The concert can be heard again on Saturday, May 15th at 7:30 and Sunday, May 16th at 2:30.

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