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The Akron Symphony Orchestra featuring Olivier Brault rocks the house

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The Akron Symphony Orchestra

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Let me begin this review by simply stating that Olivier Brault is a rock star. With that said I can begin writing about the exceptional concert by the Akron Symphony Orchestra at EJ Thomas Hall in Akron, Ohio on Saturday, January 11, 2014.

The concert began with Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, K. 191 Bb, major and featured ASO’s Todd Jelen on bassoon. This is a work that is not often played which is a shame for the bassoon in the right hands is a complex instrument capable of a huge array of sounds and trills. Todd Jelen truly did justice to this whimsical work of Mozart. Taking center stage, Mr. Jelen brought gaiety to the piece when playing along with the orchestra as well as during the many solo areas of the work. It was a fine opening for the evening of music.

Next on the program was Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201 (186a) that carried a richness that only Mozart could create. The work is one of the most relaxing to listen to. It conjures up thoughts of being wrapped in a blanket in a large easy chair with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. One felt the stress of the holidays melt away with each measure.

Following a short intermission, thirty one members of the Akron Symphony Orchestra returned to the stage with Robert Mollard on Harpsichord and featuring Olivier Brault on Baroque Violin. For fans of Apollo’s Fire, Olivier is well known for his playing style. Standing in front of the harpsichord and downstage (that part of the stage nearest the audience) he launched himself bodily into the exuberant start of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. The work is divided into four segments (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter) each having three movements. It is a very demanding work and one that is well known to many concert goers. It is without reservation that I say that Olivier and the Orchestra where truly up to task for this work. “The Four Seasons” is a collage of musical pictures that illustrates in sound the feelings of nature, weather and human interplay.

Mr. Brault played a Baroque Violin that uses natural materials for the strings and bow and has more of a sustained vibrato flavor in its sound. What made this work so exciting is, of course, Olivier himself. He works himself into quite a lather, bending, swaying and bowing this way and that and at times skipping, jumping and dancing to the music. He was truly into the piece. At times he caressed the strings as one would caress the cheeks of a small child and at others he attacked the stings with an excitement that carried the audience away with him. It was no wonder that the evening ended with an immediate standing ovation and three curtain calls for this virtuoso of the violin.

For some in the audience this was their first contact with Mr. Brault and it was a glorious introduction. With he being the Concert Master of the renowned baroque orchestra, Apollo’s Fire there are many chances to see him perform in the Northeast Ohio area. Apollo’s Fire next set of performances will be in late January and are listed below.

Concert Dates, Times and Locations for Apollo’s Fire

Apollo’s Fire
Drive the Cold Winter Away
January 22-26, 2014
Ronn McFarlane, lute
Meredith Hall, soprano

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
7:30 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
263 East Mill St.
Akron, OH 44308

Thursday, January 23, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 24, 2014
8:00 p.m.
Rockefeller’s Restaurant
3099 Mayfield Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Saturday, January 25, 2014
8:00p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
2747 Fairmount Blvd.
Cleveland Heights, OH

Sunday, January 26, 2014
4:00p.m.
Rocky River Presbyterian Church
21750 Detroit Rd.
Rocky River, OH 44116

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