By Ted AYALA
On Saturday Victor Vener and the California Philharmonic brought together a wide ranging program that had its patrons tapping their toes and brought the hills alive with “The Sound of Music.”
The second concert of the orchestra’s season was a splashy summer blockbuster of music from Broadway and Old Vienna.
The former made its appearance by way of excerpts from “South Pacific,” “Cinderella,” and “The Sound of Music,” sung with aplomb by the expressive voices of Anthony Fedorov and Jennifer Paz.
The latter is no stranger to California Philharmonic, having made appearances in previous seasons. Hers is an agile voice, liquid but also tight and attacking with sureness and strength. But her husband Fedorov made his debut with the orchestra in last weekend’s performances.
A former finalist on “American Idol,” Fedorov displayed a voice equal in ability to his wife’s. Together they displayed a synergy that at moments was electrifying.
As always, Vener and his orchestra were ideal partners: supple, but also providing a sturdy backbone to the proceedings.
Backbone and strength characterized their performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.” Vener kept the grand line of the work taut. He also allowed his outstanding wind soloists plenty of room to blossom. Especially fine were the orchestra’s clarinet and oboe soloists, both of them imbuing their parts with plenty of Schubertian warmth and tenderness. Yet the overall conception was stern, even implacable. Vener’s idea of Schubert is definitely one refracted through the lens of Beethoven; dispelling the flower-scented mists of the mythical Schubert of “Blossom Time” and instead revealing the heart of a young man whose heart was heavy in the shadow of death, yet made all the more stronger for the acceptance of this inevitable truth.
Sitting on the lawn of Santa Anita Park one could admire how the orchestra had improved over the recent seasons. In the warm summer air with the glow of twilight as an endless canopy, the knowledge of this orchestra being a local gem was reaffirmed once more.