* Notes *
New Century Chamber Orchestra end the 2011-2012 season with a world premiere by Ellen Taafe Zwilich (pictured left). The Berkeley performance last night began with Grieg's Fra Holbergs tid, which was played with much vim. The likeable Zwilich piece, Commedia dell'Arte, followed. Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was soloist, and stood surrounded by the orchestra. Salerno-Sonnenberg certainly plays with bravura. NCCO features string players, but the Zwilich employs percussion, which meant slapstick, tambourine, and toy drum in different movements was played by a violist, cellist and violinist respectively.
After intermission came a lusty rendition of Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht and Heidrich's entertaining Happy Birthday Variations. The musicians of NCCO always seem to be having a great time playing together and their joy was infectious.
* Tattling *
There much whispering in the second half of the performance, especially from near Row I Seats 107 to 111 on the orchestra level.