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Concert review: American West Symphony sizzles at opening

AMERICAN WEST SYMPHONY OF SANDY, All Saints Episcopal Church, Oct. 22

The American West Symphony of Sandy, formerly known as the Orchestra of Sandy, opened its new season Friday evening with a well-chosen selection of popular works.

And no matter what the orchestra might call itself Joel Rosenberg, the long time music director, brings his keen musicality to bear on the ensemble. The musicians responded to his direction by playing with conviction and a sense of style that belies the fact that it is a community orchestra made up of volunteers. They bring to the table a passion for music that makes their concerts interesting and entertaining.

The evening opened with Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor. The playing was robust and invigorated with a boldness that captured the drama and dark undertones wonderfully.

Next, the orchestra played the two middle movements from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade:" "The Kalandar Prince" and "The Young Prince and the Princess". Challenging for any orchestra, the American West group gave a dynamic account that was nicely articulated and phrased.

And while the sound was occasionally blurry, no doubt due to the acoustics in All Saints Episcopal Church, the performance was well executed.

Throughout, and especially in the third movement ("The Young Prince and the Princess"), there was some notable string playing. The sound was resonant and lyrical. In fact, all of the sections must be commended for their playing, and the many solos in these two movements were played with a fine sense of expression and nuance.

The final piece on the program was the opening movement from Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique." This movement, as is the case with the entire work, is filled with intensely expressed emotions, and Rosenberg elicited vibrant playing from his orchestra. His account was dramatic and passionate and at the same time wonderfully lyrical and fluid.