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REVIEW: F-M Symphony fans swoon for passionate performance

Violin virtuoso Chee-Yun gave a fiery, impassioned performance Saturday night.. Special to The Forum

FARGO—The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony kicked up its heels Saturday night, Jan. 28, with a concert packed with lush, passionate music.

Called "The Intimate Tango," the third in the season's concert series lived up to its name with the centerpiece, "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires." Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla's twist on Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" revolved around different tangos, and as an appetizer the symphony hired dancers to perform the exotic dance before showtime.

The pre-show would not top the main event, with violinist Chee-Yun returning as the featured soloist. The virtuoso left a high bar when she performed here in 2014, but matched herself with a fiery, impassioned feat.

The musician and conductor Christopher Zimmerman have worked together a number of times, including doing this number just this past summer. Their familiarity made the challenging work seem easy, like a well-worn—but not worn-out—routine.

The piece is anything but routine. With only a small orchestra, the strings had to supply percussion at points, turning the recital into a workshop on sound effects as the bassists snapped strings and the violins screeched, all to beautiful and entertaining effect.

Dressed in a strapless, floor-length, fire-red gown with sparkly sides, Chee-Yun was as dazzling to watch as she was to listen to. Her stage presence was as loose and self-assured as her playing, as she twisted tenderly toward Zimmerman on her left, or her violin counterpart, concertmaster Benjamin Sung, on her right. Only cellist Greg Hamilton was allowed to cut in with a moving solo.

Naturally, the piece is ripe with romantic movements, but sharp listeners also caught nods to Vivaldi's original as well as Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D."

Aaron Copland's 1925 work, "Music for the Theatre," opened the evening with five short movements that ranged in style from jazz to a lovely, dreamy "Interlude." The highlight, however was the bump and grind between the horns, and percussionist Kenyon Williams during the bawdy "Burlesque" section.

The night closed with a more familiar piece, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Symphony No. 40,"

immediately recognizable from its opening melody, and wonderfully warm all the way through.

In a pre-show talk, Chee-Yun was so confident the crowd would like the music, she offered a cash refund if the audience was disappointed. Instead, she spent intermission after her performance taking photos with patrons. Just as well, that dress didn't look like it had any pockets.

If You Go

What: Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra's Masterworks Concert, "The Intimate Tango"

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29

Where: Festival Concert Hall, NDSU

Info: Tickets range from $30 to $50. (701) 478-3676.

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