Review: Guest cellist lends his talent to Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra
The encore made the night. As the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and guest cellist Zuill Bailey worked their way through Richard Strauss' "Don Quixote" at the first 2010 Masterworks concert Saturday night, I kept thinking, "I like Zuill.
The encore made the night.
As the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and guest cellist Zuill Bailey worked their way through Richard Strauss' "Don Quixote" at the first 2010 Masterworks concert Saturday night, I kept thinking, "I like Zuill. I'd just like a little more of him."
It seemed that the composition didn't give the chart-topping recording artist and performer room to do his talents justice.
But at the close of "Don Quixote," after much applause and a bouquet of flowers (that he passed on to a cellist in the orchestra), Bailey returned to the stage and performed a gorgeous interpretation of the cello-only Prelude to Bach's First Cello Suite in G Major. The tones that rang from his more-than-three-centuries-old cello sounded like the voice of a human at times.
With that, I felt satisfied, though I would not have complained had he gone into a second solo (or that same one again).
Bailey's smoky, dark good looks have helped land him a number of television appearances. He hit the stage Saturday in all black with a stage demeanor that is immediately likable and engaging.
"He's a real performer," said Doris Matter of St. Cloud, Minn., whose daughter, Emily, plays bassoon in the orchestra. "He really engages with the audience."
"You can tell he's into his work," said Peter Matter, Doris' husband.
The music at Saturday's concert focused on Spain. It was the first Masterworks concert of a year dubbed the "Taste the World season," in which each concert will focus on a different part of the world. It opened with 19th-century composer Emmanuel Chabrier's "España," a light and fun romp that has the liveliness of Spanish music, though not a great deal of its distinctive dark half-tones.
At the end of "España," conductor Bernard Rubenstein and concertmaster Benjamin Sung jokingly hugged, a reference to a comment said to be made by Chabrier that at the end of the piece, the audience would embrace one another. The gesture drew laughter from the audience.
It's noteworthy because it's a microcosm of something that this orchestra is doing very well: walking the fine line of being accessible to a more vernacular audience while still maintaining the dignity of the art form. The orchestra can do so, in part, because the music is of high quality, which is really what makes art worthy of dignity in the first place.
And, as if to illustrate that point, Saturday's comic moment came after a tight, tidy performance of Chabrier's creation followed by another quality performance on "El Sombrero de Tres Picos."
In some sense, Bailey's performance was also a nod to that approach - whether intentional or not. Bailey is handsome, engaging and has television credits, too. But when the bow strikes the strings, the form is not without substance.
And that is the key.
If you go
- What: Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Concert featuring cellist Zuill Bailey
- When: 2 p.m. today
- Where: Festival Concert Hall at North Dakota State University
- Info: Tickets available at fmsymphony.org until noon today. Individuals can purchase tickets at the performance hall one hour before the performance.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734