WFP review; Manson, Carr

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Cellist Carr puts his own stamp on Schumann

One of Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s most beloved guest artists came to town Tuesday night much to the delight of its loyal audiences.

English cellist Colin Carr wowed the crowd of 831 with a searing performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129, considered one of the three great Romantic works of its kind in the cello repertoire.

Lauded for his soulful artistry and luscious tone created with his Venice-made 1730 ‘Matteo Gottfriller’ cello, the Liverpool-born cellist last graced the MCO stage in April 2013. He maintains an active concert career as soloist, chamber musician and recording artist, appearing with major orchestras worldwide, as well as throughout the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

After taking the stage with the MCO, led by Anne Manson, Carr immediately got down to the business at hand. Composed in 1850, Schumann’s Konzertstück, which comprises three linked movements in order to avoid applause breaks, demands physical stamina as well as fierce concentration.

One might be tempted to describe Carr’s playing by bravura alone. He possesses dazzling virtuosic technique, nimble bowing, an eloquent vibrato and ability to quickly scale the tonal heights of his instrument before plummeting back to its chocolaty depths.

However, the soloist is also able to fully enter into the sound world of whatever he is playing, seeming to channel the great artists of the past while adding his own personal stamp. He coaxed a rainbow of colour from his cello during the first movement, Nicht zu schnell, while the following Langsam displayed his focused tone and intensely lyrical phrasing. The third, lighter rondo Sehr lebhaft finale with its unusual accompanied cadenza included dramatic flourishes, as Carr swept his rapt listeners away with his passionate interpretation that led to a rousing standing ovation. The icing on the cake would have been an encore for the clearly enthralled crowd.

The concert opened with Giya Kancheli’s ethereal V & V, a haunting one-movement work composed in 1995 for solo violin, string orchestra and recorded tape, that also marked the second of two works by the Georgian composer being performed by the orchestra this season.

It also became a showcase for MCO concertmaster Karl Stobbe, whose solo performances have grown noticeably stronger with each passing year. The musician ably performed glassy harmonics, gossamer-light trills and wisps of melodies that resonated like shards of memory with utmost sensitivity during the elegiac piece.

The multi-layered work unfolds as a fascinating dialogue between Kancheli’s stated Eternal (the Divine Voice) represented by the recording of late Georgian singer Mr. H. Gonashvili, and the Real, which is the soloist with orchestra. Kudos to the MCO for bringing this stirring work to light.

The program ended with Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 118 No. 10 in A-flat major, based on the composer’s String Quartet No. 10 and transcribed by Rudolf Barshai. Hearing this harrowing work in the intimate Westminster United Church created even more impact, with its jagged themes and forceful bowing attacks by the strings reflecting an age of anxiety in a Soviet world — and quite possibly our own.

Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 2015
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Westminster United Church
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Attendance: 831
4.5 stars out of 5