Thursday, January 30, 2020


   Upper Midwest music lovers who act fast have a fine opportunity to learn up close why the Minnesota Orchestra is so highly rated across the world. The current concert program features mostly the string sections in top-level performance.
   We attended a morning so-called “coffee concert” at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The program will be repeated Friday evening, January 31. The orchestra was ably led by cello virtuoso, Paul Watkins. First on the program, a delightful Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Opus 10, composed by Benjamin Britten. Some of the variations were wildly surprising and required exceptional precision by the violins in particular. Bright, varied and interesting.
   Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, J.S.’s second son (of 20 total) became a highly successful and creative composer. His Cello Concerto in A major contains numerous surprising passages, ably presented by soloist, Paul Watkins. Unfortunately, the harpsichord was at times, almost lost in the music.
   The final piece was Beethoven’s Symphony No.4 in B-flat major. It’s a rousing piece in which the orchestra even presented allegro movements with a verve and up-tempo precision that clearly brought a near-capacity audience to attention. Again, the string sections performed at a high level. On a cold January evening this excellent program and performance will be just the thing for the winter audience.

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