April 29, 2004

That Man Is a Genius

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I love classical music concerts because no one knows when to clap. Amidst a multipart concerto, there is always that uncertainty about whether the orchestra is on allegro or andante and whether the next pause signifies the start of another movement or the time to erupt in applause. The difference between the typical classical concert experience and the recent Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Concert is that this uncertainty never manifests itself. The orchestra was able to connect with the audience one-on-one, personalizing the experience so that the flow of the music remained consistently discernable.

A seemingly closely-knit group of individuals, the orchestra moved musically as one. Every dip of the bow was deliberately executed with precision and the harmonious result resonated through the theater. This doesn’t mean, however, that the musicians were duplicates of each other. Differing in nuances and personal style, the members of the orchestra were able to mesh together musically without sacrificing their individuality.

The different components of the orchestra, from the wind instruments to the string instruments moved musically and physically in unison with a common, collective direction in mind. Music is not merely an auditory experience as every sway of the orchestra to the notes they play demonstrates the physicality necessary to convey it. The orchestra breathes with a life of its own, a living entity with different components, from wind instruments to string instruments.

World famous cellist and Sony Classical artist, Yo-Yo Ma was the soloist for the orchestra and maintained a high level of energy and emotion throughout the concert. Born in Paris to Chinese parents, Ma has always been on a continuous mission to spark the imagination through his music. His recent concert with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra merely reaffirmed his wide musical range and ability. Ma threw himself into the music, amazingly animated and yet carefully attentive to every note that he played. He was a wonder both to watch and to listen, further giving life to the energetic, high-spirited side of classical music.

Ma’s artistry in terms of musical ability was clearly evident throughout his performance. Great range was achieved through subtleties as his fingers traveled with lightening speed and precision across the strings. Majestic in its scope, Ma’s playing was a testament to the power of music and mastery of one’s craft. A highly controlled musician, every one of Ma’s movements was deliberate and purposeful. He patiently held every note to its full extent, never rushing and always in command of the situation. The sudden change from slow, measured playing to notes being played rapidly yet without fault is amazing both to watch and to hear.

Filled with grand lead-ins and varying tones, the music played by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra spanned multiple variances of both emotion and mood. With the help of stirring solos performed by Ma, the orchestra succeeded in communicating to the audience. Not once during the entire performance did the orchestra lose the audience, as every person remained entranced by the unique experience they were witnessing.

Through the ups and downs of every piece or the strong and soft portions of every movement, the audience maintained a connection with the performers on stage. The music swelled and we held our breathe in anticipation, knowing that we were on the verge of experiencing another spectacular resolution.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Red Letter Daze Movie Editor