Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wendy Warner

Wendy Warner played Prokofiev's "Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra in E minor" with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra last night as part of their "Russian Fantasy" concert. In his pre-concert lecture, conductor Randall Fleischer told us that this is one of the more difficult pieces for cellists and orchestras. I sure couldn't tell that by watching Wendy; she was clearly in complete control as her hands flew across the fingerboard with ease. Although I've had a recording of this piece by Mischa Maisky, I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to it before this. But seeing this performance, live, sure has changed that.

Afterward, I was interested (and gratified) to hear Z comment that at one point he heard several phrases that sounded like they came from "Peter and the Wolf". There's hope for him, yet.

The concert also included a short piece by Shostakovich, Mussorgsky's fascinating "Suite from Khovantchina" and Stravinsky's "Firebird". It's too bad that Anchorage is so far away, or I'd go to many every ASO concert.

I saw the Wendy Warner show too and I was looking forward to a review that would help explain to me what I had seen and heard. To my perhaps less-critical ears, it was a near-perfect performance of one of the most technically difficult pieces I've seen played. All those chords, playing as high on the bridge as a cellist can play, percussive sequences and yes, less-simple-to-grasp themes that really have to work hard to engage the listener -- and she made it look easy. Perhaps too easy. I wonder if non-cellists didn't realize what kind of show they were getting. I thought it was too bad that the Daily News review (by Mike Dunham I think) focused on some minor gaffe in the non-cello opening work; he also made a lot of comments about brass solos from the show's second half. I kept reading through it all, wanting to hear more what he thought about the CELLO!

I thought Wendy Warner was marvelous to hear and to watch -- I look forward to following her career.
I remember seeing Wendy Warner perform in a summer concert many years ago, during the Peninsula Music Festival in Door county, Wisconsin. The string teacher who taught me, had recollections of seeing Wendy perform as a child, during summer Suzuki camps. She remarked that Wendy was already good then!
Unrelated... but I tagged you in a blog meme, Guanaco.
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