Reviews: Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra

Several media outlets have published reviews of Brett Mitchell's performance with the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra last Saturday evening:

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland): Mitchell and his Kent State University charges gave a well-paced and nicely balanced reading of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major, making of it so much more than simply an amuse-bouche before the main event.

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Cleveland Classical: Andrew Norman’s The Great Swiftness saturated the stage with its architecturally inspired soundscape. The five-minute work tests the endurance of the ensemble, but the Kent/Blossom students never wavered, demonstrating Norman’s orchestrational feats of range, dynamics, and long tones. Another notable technique was the use of bass bows on the antiphonal vibraphones, whose sound forged a metallic sheen that glinted and gleamed throughout the pavilion.

Beethoven’s penultimate symphony, the second he had written in F Major, was a fitting choice for the chamber orchestra. While it’s firmly in the standard repertoire, Mitchell and the Kent/Blossom ensemble brought a freshness to the piece that is not often heard. Their spirited presentation and the perfect balance between winds and strings were especially refreshing.

The pairing of The Great Swiftness with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 seemed naturally symbiotic. The well-executed dynamics in the Beethoven could be perceived as a macro motive, an overarching structure similar to the soundscape in the Norman.

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Bachtrack: Mitchell led credible performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major and The Great Swiftness by the young American composer Andrew Norman. Norman’s work, inspired by Alexander Calder’s 1969 large public sculpture La Grande Vitesse in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is tonal, angular, and attractive. For the Beethoven, Mitchell chose brisk tempos and clear textures, mirroring the model of the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra’s sponsoring organization.