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Ojai North! Programs 5-6

Leif-ove-andsnes-ojai-north-2012* Notes * 
Ojai North! at Cal Performances ended with two performances on Thursday. Program 5 began with two contemporary pieces, Hafliði Hallgrímsson's Poemi and Bent Sørensen's Piano Concerto No. 2. Both were played by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Det Norske Kammerorkester), featuring violinist Terje Tønnesen in the first work, and Music Director of the Ojai Festival and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (pictured left, photograph by Felix Broede) in the second. Hallgrímsson's Poemi is evocative and tense. The musicians communicated clearly with each other and the playing was beautiful. The Sørensen had a little bit of everything: claves played by the whole orchestra, humming, rumbling, and brightness. The contrasts between the orchestra and pianist were carefully drawn, and the moments of similarity were also lovely.

It was interesting to note the opposite postures the two soloists took, Tønnesen seems flexible, and bends backward as he plays and constantly moves, while Andsnes hunches more or less in the same position. This of course has to do with their instruments as much as anything else.

The second half of Program 5 consisted of Berg's Four Songs Op. 2, sung by mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn with pianist Marc-André Hamelin and Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, "Waldstein." Stotijn's voice has a deep resonance, and her singing was sensitive and hypnotic. Andsnes played "Waldstein" with a grim determination. His style is dry, and for the Beethoven, seemed to lack a sense of breath.

After a break of thirty minutes, Program 6 began with Andsnes playing several György Kurtág pieces. Andsnes sounded precise and elegant. This was followed by a pretty rendition of Debussy's Danse sacrée et danse profane from the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, with Ida Aubert Bang as the harp soloist.

Stotijn and Hamelin returned to the stage with Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom. Stotijn's voice is perhaps not quite as well suited for this as the Berg earlier. The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra ended Ojai North! with Grieg's "Holberg" Suite. The musicians, having changed into summery street clothes, played with vigor. Everyone but the cellists stood and even danced during the Rigaudon. The exuberance of the playing was wonderful to see and hear.

* Tattling *
Someone's mobile phone rang during the Hallgrímsson. A service dog seated by Row G Seat 1 made several high pitched noises, and had to be taken outside in the middle of the Kurtág.