Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pam Coburn and the ICO

Heard a wonderful concert today--DePauw alum and Visiting Professor Pamela Coburn, soloing on campus with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Pam was warm, regal, and elegant all at once. Her voice is not just beautiful, but has a burnished glow to it. She was fabulous.

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra is quite good. It's another example of how high the level of instrumental playing is in this country; this is an ensemble of free-lance musicians. The wind and brass players, and most of the strings are of major-symphony caliber. There was some occasional minor intonation difficulty in the violins, but other than that the orchestra played beautifully as well.

The program was Handel and Mozart. OK, I just have to face it. I've listened to enough music of this era played fantastically well on period instruments with historically-informed playing styles that hearing lots lots of vibrato in this music just drives me nuts. And I think that often string players use vibrato as a substitute for genuine nuance and variety of actual timbre. So it took me quite a while to get over the culture shock and enjoy the performance on its own terms.

I'm glad that I still can switch listening modes, stop being annoyed by the vibrato, and enjoy this sort of instrumental performance.

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