The last performance for the Oceanside Classical Concerts’ 2018-2019 season was the perfect wrap-up. O-Celli, the artists for this finale, truly are in a league of their own.
One cello is great. I love a good cello. Lots of folks love a good cello. Two cellos – well, sure…even better. Four cellos…a quartet…great. But eight cellos?
Yes, eight cellos! And what was the result? Eight cellos were a chamber ensemble…a brilliant ensemble playing music that had been either transcribed for cellos playing the orchestral parts, or composed specifically for this octet.
The concert was outstanding in every way. We heard the parts of the violins and violas, the clarinets, the flutes, the percussion (percussion on cellos! Absolutely. 4 cellos together playing percussion!) – whichever orchestral part was there when needed. It was spectacular, almost beyond belief except for the fact that we were there seeing it, hearing it. We were witnessing something extraordinary.
The music in the first half of the show carried us through Southern Europe, late 19th/early 20th Century – composers Guiseppe Verdi, Manuel de Falla, Emmanuel Chabrier and Joaquin Turina were highlighted. The octet’s MC, Alexandre Beauvoir, was our informative and entertaining guide. He interpreted Danza de La Vida Breve (Manuel de Falla) – “Life is short,” Mr. Beauvoir told us…”so enjoy.” And we did enjoy every moment. Another first half standout was Joaquin Turina’s Danza Fantasticas. We were transported through Hota dancing, to the more retrospective tones from the Basque country, to the concluding movement, Orgia, with its passionate and explosive ending.
The show’s second half featured 20th Century music of South America, from composers Nino Rota (beautiful solos in La Strada), Astor Piazolla, Oriol Cruixent and Arturo Marquez. “Piazolla,” Mr. Beauvoir told us, “went to Europe to study music when he was young, hoped to become the next Brahms. His teacher heard him play casually one evening, not in a lesson, and asked Piazolla what the music was. Piazolla replied that it was the music of his homeland in South America. His teacher told him ‘THAT is the music you must play!” The Piazolla composition played by O-Celli was fabulous – Fuga y Mysterio, Milonga del Angel, Muerte del Angel. Genius through and through.
Although we had reached the end of this wonderful evening of music, and Mr. Beauvoir had told us that, sadly, this was the end of the program, O-Celli surprised us and returned to play again. Nothing could have surpassed their choice – their arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody. This was a timely selection, given the movie with the outpouring of the music of Freddy Mercury and Queen…and so, so perfect for all of us who were fortunate enough to be in O-Celli’s audience.
Review by Mary Leigh-Warden, Oceanside Classical Concerts Society