Photo credit: Julie Skarratt
I don’t get to attend many classical music concerts, as I tend to be too easily lured by the siren call of the rock scene to notice that much of anything else is going on. So, I was quite thrilled to have the opportunity to see Ensemble d’Archi Fenaroli perform for Carnegie Hall’s Eighth Annual Notable Occasion this past Thursday evening. I was not disappointed, and it proved to be perfect palette cleanser after the raucous evening I'd had the night before at Bowery Ballroom with Foxy Shazam.
Led by the particularly energetic Luigi Piovano (much of his conducting was punctuated by punchy leaps and jumps), the Ensemble began the program with Benjamin Britten’s ebullient Simple Symphony—an ideal opening for such a talented group of musicians. From the delicate plucking of the "Playful Pizzicato" movement to the exuberant "Frolicsome Finale," it was impossible not to notice the players enjoying themselves. From first violinist Iuliu Hamza to the impassioned playing of cellists Massimo Magri and Claudia Fiore, the piece was as much fun to watch as it was to hear.
Mendelssohn's seldom-heard Concerto for Violin and Strings featured the gifted guest violinist Grazia Raimondi, whose elegant playing gently wafted through Zankel Hall from start to finish. Delicate but powerful, her playing never felt forced or overwrought; rather, it was imbued with a certain lightness that matched her precision beautifully. Raimondi's calm, statuesque stage presence was an interesting foil to Piovano’s joyous movement.
Giacomo Puccini’s Crisantemi and Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances rounded out the program, and although they weren’t the highlight of the evening for me, the most exciting moment came last when the ensemble played a surprise version of “Last Night When We Were Young.” Perhaps it was the fact that I knew the song already, or the evening's glamorous setting at Carnegie Hall and its representation of what I imagined life in New York to be like before I actually lived here, but whatever the reason, I was completely moved. It was a beautiful love letter to the city that many in the ensemble had never visited before; a testament to the dream that is New York—that maybe it can and could be real.
For a brief moment, on Thursday night at least, it was.