In performance: NOI
National Orchestral Institute ensemble offers professional polish
by Joe Banno
It says a lot about current standards of orchestral playing that the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic has performed this summer at the Clarice Smith Center on Saturday with such confidence, technical finish and sure sense of style. The Philharmonic showcases musicians (age 18 to 28) drawn from colleges and conservatories across North America to participate in the University of Maryland's 2010 NOI. These Philharmonic concerts -- Saturday's was the second of three -- cap a month of intensive study and performance by the NOI participants in chamber music, new music and symphonic literature.
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In a challenging program, conductor Asher Fisch drew performances from these young musicians that would not have sounded out of place on the concert series of many American regional orchestras. The strings were a tightly disciplined group -- kudos, especially, to an uncommonly well-toned viola section -- able to shift gears quickly from trenchant attack to silken allure in Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, and to keep up with the intensity and complexity of the writing in music from Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg." The woodwinds' crisp, clean solo work was flawless, and there was a burnished glow to the brass in ensemble playing.
The greatest orchestras may bring a richer vein of character, a more lived-in sense of interplay and, in some cases, a more urgent narrative thrust to these scores. But -- particularly at the challengingly fleet speeds Fisch adopted here -- these colorful, razor-sharp performances, by musicians who have known each other for only a month, were mightily impressive.
-- Joe Banno
June 21, 2010; 6:10 AM ET
Categories: local reviews
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