Cello Octet Conjunto Iberico review

By weeklyvolcano on February 15, 2007

Over the last 12 Valentines Days the significant one and I have shared, he has staunchly subscribed to the theory that Valentines Day is a non-holiday; that the commercial Establishment created the event purely for profit.

I have always smiled, nodded and agreed, because doing so saved me expense and “what do I get him” headaches, and besides, it is a commercial fabrication â€" I’d rather show a person more often than once a year, that they are appreciated.  But that’s just me.

So it came to pass that this year, the Significant Dude sent me “flowers.”

Turned out to be a basket of chocolates from a florist; (Gracias, Grassis!) â€" in it were truffles of many shapes and sizes, dark chocolate bars, many items formerly known as Frangos, and more, more, more.

As it turned out the kid brought me home chocolate, and it turned out the mother-in-law brought me some, too.

I like chocolate, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love chocolate.

So then we, mother-in-law and I, went to Cello Octet Conjunto Iberico presented by the Tacoma Philharmonic at the Pantages Theater.

More chocolate.

Tacomaphilharmonicpilarj The rich sounds of the cello â€" eight of them, in point of fact â€" soothe the soul in ways that must be experienced.  There is something about the range of the instrument that’s not quite bass, not quite treble, not quite limited by mere mortal “range.”

The instruments, especially in the hands of the Spanish ensemble, can soar from elemental low points into treble notes, can whine into surreal ranges, can rhythmically move together in primal, sensual, modern, beautiful ways.

Combine this with Pilar Jurado, and you have death by aural chocolate decadence.

The first notes she sang, in the opening number by Marlos Nobre, “Tres Cancoes de Beiramar” stunned in ways her mink-brown gown with no back and a train to die for didn’t.  Her voice couldn’t be classified, my mother-in-law and I agreed, as strictly “soprano” because her low notes were just so emotionally involving, and the high notes were always rich, not shrill.  Her voice was so perfectly the cellos’ match that there were times I couldn’t tell where Jurado ended, and the cello began, and vice versa.  That was amazing.

Jurado’s stage presence and interplay with the audience was also engaging; even when she wasn’t on stage and the octet played the excitement was maintained through the innovative pieces that combined the chamber orchestral stylings and synergy that I love with a hint of the unknown.  Surprises were plenty: the second piece was not, as on the program, the stunning Phillip Glass “Symphony for Eight,” (although it did appear, as number three) rather, piece #2 was a Dutch composer’s idea of a Turkish dance.  Conductor Elias Arizcuren explained, through his sexily thick Spanish accent, that the piece was created for the ensemble.  The composer, whose name I wish I understood, said, according to Arizcuren, “I don’t want to hear a single cello sound.”

The piece, unsettling and ghostly, showed the amazing range of the cello; my mother-in-law shook her head sadly and said, “can’t dance to it.”  I tingled with goosebumps at a totally new aural experience and smiled and nodded.

My last surprise of the evening did not lay in the two encores performed by Conjunto Iberico and Pilar Jurado; these pieces had a Spanish flair and emotion that made me happy, make no mistake, but these pieces where what I had expected the whole evening to be.

No, my last surprise in the evening lay in the stunning Christobal Halffter piece, Fandango Sobre un tema del Padre Soler.

Beginning with a pizzicato interplay between two cellists, the piece built from notes spaced seemingly bars apart, which felt like the Simon game I played as a kid, to a soaring, old-school chamber orchestra piece with fun twists on dissonance, and a crazy-cool rising-note pizzicato. The piece very nearly ended on a pianissimo pizzicato, but soared again into a frenzy of sensory overload, then ended on a single note, played in unison, forte pizzicato.

It made my heart sing, and it made me yearn for chocolate.

I bought a bottle of wine, came home, relieved the sitter as I sent the mother-in-law home, munched on some yummies from my basket as I sipped and reveled in how apropos the treat was as a metaphor for my evening.

Yum, Tacoma Philharmonic.

Yum, Significant One.  Happy Valentines Day, and I love you.