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Symphony concert was satisfying

Music director Daniel Hege led the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in a skilled and satisfying performance of three orchestral treasures at Century II on Saturday evening.

Opening the concert with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Overture to the Marriage of Figaro,” the orchestra played with buoyant effervescence.

This piece is rife with shimmering melodies and sparkling harmonies and accolades are deserved for the entire orchestra for the lightness and beauty of their performance.

There were occasional slight discrepancies of tempo as themes were passed from section to section. From the back rows of the hall, the timpani projected over the orchestra too forcefully.

Hege spoke to the audience as the stage was preparing for the next piece, “Cello Concerto No. 1” by Dmitri Shostakovich. The three stylistically diverse works on the program were alike in that each one conveys the full range of emotions and each work is tightly unified, he said. This concept clearly drove his interpretations of each piece.

The soloist for the Shostakovich was Julie Albers. Albers' command of the cello is absolutely stunning. Her musical studies began at age 2 on the violin. She switched to the cello at 4.

This concerto was written for the virtuosic Mstislav Rostropovich, who is said to have learned it in four days. While Albers may have worked on the piece for longer than this, her performance was awe inspiring. Hege and the orchestra also did the challenging score great justice.

The concluding work of the concert was Johannes Brahms’ “First Symphony in C Minor.” Much has been written about Brahms’ self-critical, perfectionist ways. His compositions took shape slowly and the pieces that came forth were not particularly in sync with the romantic fashion dominant during his lifetime.

In his work, Brahms displays a reverence for the musical ideals of Beethoven and some refer to Brahms’ First Symphony as Beethoven's Tenth.

Beethoven took the forms of the classical era developing them to their utmost and then, many agree, opened the door to the Romantic era.

Hege clearly had classical notions in mind as he led the orchestra in a reserved interpretation on Saturday night.This reserve yielded a polished performance by the orchestra. From top to bottom the string sound was clear, rich and beautiful.

Other than some grave pitch concerns in the horn section in the final movement of the piece, the winds, brass and timpani also played with balance and beauty.

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WICHITA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENTS “SAY CELLO TO BRAHMS”

What: The second concert in Wichita Symphony Orchestra's 2011-12 Classics season

Where: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas

When: 3 p.m. today

Tickets: $21-$45 (season tickets also available). For more information, call 316-267-7658 or visit www.wso.org.

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