|Gabriel Cabezas, soloist|
Sphinx's 2012 Isaac Stern Award
On Saturday, April 6th, 2013, the Prince George's Philharmonic treated its audience to a symphonic evening at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, here in Prince George's County, Maryland.
The orchestra was led by guest conductor, Anthony D. Elliott, Professor of Cello, and Conductor of the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra at the University of Michigan. Mr. Elliott last performed with the Philharmonic on March 31st, 2012 in an "extraordinary rendition" of the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 125. [Review: Prince Georgian April 1, 2012]
This time Maestro Elliott lent his formidable musical talents in support of an amazing young soloist, Gabriel Cabezas, in a performance of one of the great cello concerti, the Saint-Saëns Concerto for Cello No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33. At twenty, Mr. Cabezas is the winner of the 15th annual Sphinx Competition, and Sphinx's 2012 Isaac Stern Award. As soloist, he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony. His technical proficiency and musicianship was partnered with the Philharmonic's demonstrated musical ability to showcase and not overwhelm guest soloists. The brilliance of Mr. Cabezas' playing electrified the audience.
Conductor and Cellist
At the end of the performance, the audience was treated to a very special unannounced performance of the Sonata for Two Cellos in G Major by Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707 – 1747). With two masters of the instrument playing together the result was magical. I asked Mr. Ellis about the tonal qualities of the two instruments and he kindly explained to me that Mr. Cabezas played a very good 80 year old American made cello, while Mr. Elliott's instrument was made in Italy in 1703.
After intermission, Mr. Elliott conducted the Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73. Sometimes referred to as the 'Pastoral' Symphony because of perceived hints of the famous Beethoven's Sixth, and accordingly most times performed with that reference in mind, this time Mr. Elliott brought out what Brahms wrote about his work: that it is "...so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning." The emotional content of music was writ large in Mr. Elliott's performance and the Philharmonic rose to the occasion.
Mr. Elliott was able to fuse the strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion into a personal tonal statement that supported his interpretation. This fusion of the parts into a whole is distinct from Mr. Ellis, who produces a musical parfait of layered distinct sounds, crystallized in a glittering sound. The Philharmonic's ability to respond to two distinct conducting styles and interpretations is a sign of their splendid professional abilities.
The evening started with a performance of Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2, Op. 43. I was delighted that Maestro Elliott kept the Prince George's Philharmonic tradition of a musical preview and explanation (with the orchestra playing musical motifs of significance) to help the audience understand what they were about to hear. Mr. Elliott began the night with a wonderful spirited performance.
The Prince George's Philharmonic continues to dazzle; you really need to come and listen to this first-rate ensemble, a county treasure.
Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 8:00pm
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD
Charles Ellis, conductor - Michael Mizrahi, piano
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D Major (Titan)
Tickets for the Clarice Smith Center are included with a season subscription. Single tickets will be available through the Clarice Smith Center box office only. Click here to purchase tickets for this concert online.