Superduo "Soloduo"; and Beethoven's Funniest Home Symphonies?
Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 11:15AM
Stephen Brookes

July 22, 2006
Dropped in to the Alexandria Guitar Festival last night to hear the spectacular Italians Lorenzo Micheli and Matteo Mela – otherwise known as “Soloduo”. And let me tell you, this was killer playing: virtuosic, imaginative, extraordinarily detailed and deeply intelligent.  Micheli and Mela are unusually gifted musicians with a rapport rivalling that of the Assad brothers, and the effect was riveting, even rapturous – especially in the intimate confines of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, with no more than 150 people (most of them guitarists) in the audience.  In all honesty, it was one of the most impressive and affecting concerts I’ve been to this year. Is anything more beautiful, more transporting, than two guitars played at the highest level?  If you have something, let me know.

Lorenzo Micheli and Matteo Mela
The program was a treat, too, revolving around Astor Piazzolla’s elegant-sexy “Tango Suite”, Antoine de Lhoyer’s “Duo Concertant, op. 31”,  and Mauro Giuliani’s “Variazioni Concertanti, op. 130”.  The duo (who make a point of digging up forgotten works from the 19th Century repertoire) also performed four arrangements by Miguel Llobet of works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, and Louis-Claude Daquin.

Just more evidence that it pays to get off the beaten track to find the best of anything in life.  But we were firmly in the mainstream on Thursday night, covering the BSO’s “Mozart’s Hottest Hits” program out at Strathmore. Here’s the review:

The Washington Post 7/22/06:  The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of guest conductor Edwin Outwater, descended on the Music Center at Strathmore on Thursday night for an evening of “Mozart’s Hottest Hits”. Putting the elegant title aside for a moment (what’s next? “Beethoven’s Funniest Home Symphonies”?), Outwater showed that he is, in fact, a very accomplished Mozart conductor, with a lyric sensibility and a gift for blending high drama with subtle, convincing emotion.

The program itself was, as promised, wall-to-wall chestnuts, from the iconic “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” to the magnificent Symphony No. 41 (the “Jupiter”). But Outwater conjured up fresh and very engaging interpretations, and the evening felt like visiting old friends who still have a lot to say. He infused the well-mannered “Nachtmusik” with a distinct electrical current, and was joined by violinist Soovin Kim for a sweeping, hugely enjoyable account of the Violin Concerto in G, K. 216.

Soovin Kim
Kim’s a young violinist we’re likely to hear more from.  A superb musician with a fine tone (that 1709 Stradivarius he plays probably doesn’t hurt),  he’s also assured, imaginative, and has a likeable “geek chic” appeal. Outwater had a little trouble waking the orchestra from what appeared to be a mid-concert nap, but by the opening of the unbearably tender and gorgeous Adagio, both conductor and soloist were soaring.

The “Jupiter” is, of course, one of Mozart’s most relentlessly captivating symphonies. It’s also relentlessly complex, especially all that diabolical counterpoint in the last movement. But Outwater produced a near-crystalline performance that kept the music tight and exciting. Definitely hot -- and definitely a hit.

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