The Czech Moravian Virtuosi Orchestra
sparkles in novelties from Europe,
by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is best known for his sprawling orchestral showpiece The Planets. That score is atypical of the composer's musical style and compositional output. In such works as the two suites for concert band, the St Paul's Suite for strings, and Egdon Heath, Holst combined a uniquely folksy, gentle brand of English nationalism with the instrumental and contrapuntal rigor of Baroque music. His Brook Green Suite for String Orchestra -- one of the composer's last works -- was written in 1933 for the junior orchestra of St Paul's Girls School in London. This lovely, pastoral work received a ravishing performance by the Czech Moravian Virtuosi Orchestra on 25 July 2004 at the Miami Lakes United Methodist Church in Miami Lakes, Florida, USA.
Like such ensembles as the Slovak Philharmonic and the Cappella Istropolitana, the Czech Moravian ensemble is deeply imbued with a uniquely Central European style of string playing. The warm, richly sumptuous sound of this seventeen member string ensemble is a treat for jaded ears. Their natural, beautifully focused rubato produces a wonderful cushion of sound. Under the baton of guest conductor James Brooks Bruzzese, the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) based conductor of the Symphony of the Americas, the Czech ensemble presented a memorable evening of works for string orchestra. Brooks Bruzzese perfectly delineated the sentimentality of Holst's Air and brought high spirited pulse to the suite's concluding Dance.
Brooks Bruzzese has long been an interesting programmer who revives rarely heard musical gems. While light music was not the artistic signature of Finland's Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), his Suite Caracteristique of 1923 is a delightfully melodic salon work that would not have been out of place in the Old Vienna of Johann Strauss and the Waltz Kings. Brooks Bruzzese led the Czech Moravian Virtuosi in a sparkling performance. The lush string textures of the Lento beguiled the ear while rhythmic energy of the Commodo was bracing.
Copyright © 21 August 2004
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA