Last night, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performed in Somsen Auditorium in Winona as part of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
Orpheus is my second-favorite orchestra (the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are in a tie for first), and I’ve always wanted to hear them live. Last night was OCO’s first trip to Minnesota in their 40 years of performing together.
It was incredible. I did not want the show to end.
For insight into what makes Orpheus so special, check out this conversation (at least the first few moments) between three Orpheus members and Jeffrey Kimpton, president of Interlochen Center for the Arts.
As for Wednesday night, it was mesmerizing to watch the players work together. After each piece, they left the stage, only to return to a completely different seating organization for the next tune.
The final piece on the program was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.
I’ve never been a massive Tchaikovsky fan, and before you hate on me in the comments, let me just say that his Serenade for Strings is one of the most exquisitely written pieces of music by anyone ever. I have such a deep respect and love for that piece, and for Tchaikovsky himself, even if he’s not one of my favorites.
On top of that, Tchaik’s Serenade is one of OCO’s signature pieces. It seems logical then, that they played it beautifully.
I’ve never heard the 3rd movement played like they played it last night. It was as if the music came from their own breath. This recording will give you a sense of how delicately it can be played with a large orchestra.
When OCO began those opening notes to that third movement, it was like petals of a flower unfolding in the morning sun. My heart ached from the beauty of the music. I wanted to stay in that moment far longer than the moment allowed.
It was one of several magical spells they wove throughout the evening.
The Tchaik was the last official piece on the program, and OCO turned to Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances for the encore. I never expected Bartok, following Rossini, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and it was the perfect end to the show.
After Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s performance last night, I decided that were I to strike it rich, I’d hop a plane on a whim to go hear whatever orchestra I want, whenever I want. Berlin, London, New York, LA, or wherever OCO is scheduled. Who are your favorite orchestras?