Orchestra Miami marks a decade in style with two soloists

By Dave Rosenbaum

Elaine Rinaldi conducted Orchestra Miami Sunday afternoon in Miami Beach.

Elaine Rinaldi conducted Orchestra Miami Sunday afternoon in Miami Beach.

Orchestra Miami artistic director Elaine Rinaldi brought along just the orchestra’s string section for its 10th anniversary season opener Sunday afternoon at Scottish Rite Temple in Miami. She also brought along two fine soloists with ties to the area: violinist Tomas Cotik and soprano Eglise Gutierrez.

The Argentinian-born Cotik, a former New World Symphony fellow who has played with Florida Grand Opera and the Amernet String Quartet, performed a work close to his heart: Cuatro Estaciones Portenas (“The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”) by the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla.

Conceived by Piazzolla as four separate tango-like compositions and later arranged for violin and orchestra by Leonid Desyatnikov, Cuatro Estaciones Portenas challenges and engages the audience with long, dissonant passages and abrupt shifts in tempo and texture. It can sound dancey, folksy or jazzy with occasional Eastern European tints, too.

Cotik applied a deep, urgent tone to the middle portions of the first movement, “Verano Porteno” (Summer) with playing that was deeply expressive. The opening bars of the second movement, “Orteno Porteno” (Autumn), call for scratchy percussive effects. Cotik executed the technique so effectively that it almost sounded as if he were sawing through wood. 

The third section, “Invierno Porteno” (Winter), opens with music that has hints of Cole Porter’s “So In Love” from Kiss Me Kate. Later portions of the same movement quote Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Cotik seamlessly handled the frequent changes in mood and adroitly traversed the work’s myriad technical challenges while always keeping the focus on the music. Colors were beautifully conveyed and blended throughout; Piazzolla does not paint each of the seasons with one brush, nor did Cotik.

The orchestra was also up to the challenges, which include creating sounds not often heard from the strings: screeching, rattling, hissing, sometimes an overall cacophony. Cellist Aaron Merritt’s solo in “Autumn” was a highlight. He exhibited a deep tone with a bit of edginess appropriate to the score. Cotik, Rinaldi and the orchestra provided impressive advocacy for a multifaceted work that deserves to be heard more often.

Gutierrez’s contribution to the program was brief, lasting about eight minutes after the intermission, but notable for her artistry and pure tone. Gutierrez, who lives in Miami and has sung leading roles at Florida Grand Opera and Covent Garden, performed two works by Sergei Rachmaninoff: his wordless Vocalise and the short song “Zdes Khorosho” (“How Fair This Place”).

Gutierrez’s warm, dark hue in the lower register and voice control brought out the soothing aspects of Vocalise. She floated high notes like a true coloratura before delicately bringing them down into her rich middle register then back up again.

Gutierrez stretched her range to the upper extreme near the end of “Zdes Khorosho,” her voice still ringing out transcendent and radiant.

A refined, well-shaped reading of Mozart’s Divertimento for Strings in D major, K136, opened the program and emphasized the piece’s royal origins. The Andante was magisterial, the finale appropriately energetic. Throughout, the strings’ overall tone was pleasing, the playing cohesive.

Intonation issues and stretches of disorganized ensemble crept into the second and fourth movements of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, yet the orchestra managed to find the romantic heart of the score, especially in the solemn Elegie and the lush finale. It was a largely satisfying conclusion to a very good anniversary event for Orchestra Miami.

Orchestra Miami presents “Beethoven on the Beach” 8 p.m. March 4 at North Beach Band Shell in Miami Beach, 7 p.m. March 5 at Pinecrest Gardens and 6 p.m. March 12 at Gateway Park in Sunny Isles Beach. orchestramiami.org

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One Response to “Orchestra Miami marks a decade in style with two soloists”

  1. Posted Nov 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm by James Thompson

    Fabulous concert, Elaine. There was some confusion with our RR seating, when we were told we couldn’t sit there, but we got that straightened out. We loved Eglise’ short solos, but for the life of me, I didn’t hear you introduce her – did you? We do plan on attending your Jan. concert. Once again, tremendous effort by all.

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Mon Nov 21, 2016
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