Santa Cruz Symphony’s New Concert Master in Recital

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                     Violinist Nigel Armstrong                             

On Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the Samper Hall, Cabrillo College, Maestro Danny Stewart placed the new corner stone of the revitalized Santa Cruz Symphony by introducing the newly appointed Concert Master Nigel Armstrong in recital. The program consisted of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Praeludium in E Major from the Partita No. 3, BWV 1006 for solo violin,; Fratres by ARVO PART for Violin and Elizabeth Dorman on Piano; Johannes Brahms Sonata No.2 in A Major, Op. 100; String Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola with Mr. Stewart on Viola; La Plus Que Lente and Clair de lune with Armstrong on violin and Dorman on piano and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane again featuring Armstrong and Dorman.

Most impressive was the intimate dynamic control that became evident from Nigel Armstrong’s the first down bow in the Bach work. They appeared to start at the “pppp” level and extend to “ff”, all with wonderful color in expressing the passages and all in awesome balance when coordinated with both pianist Elizabeth Dorman and Maestro Stewart on viola. Rapid, subtle violin arpeggios opened the The Part work against the chordal piano entrance some 3 minutes later. Once again the excellent balance between violin and piano was noteworthy.

The Brahms Sonata was a musical delight filled with romantic tenderness in true Brahmsian style. The well performed bouncy, pizzicato section offered textural contrast at its very best. The Mozart Sonata was a special musical treat to see and hear Maestro Stewart in a performance role with Concert Master Armstrong. There was plenty of eye contact and an abundance of smiles that demonstrated not only superb musicianship, but a newly founded comaraderie that certainly will serve the orchestra well!

Often performed as a solo piano work, Debussy’s La Plus Que Lente has been enjoyed as much when performed as a work for solo violin. Combining this idea with two virtuosi became yet another musical treat. Armstrong highlighted the soprano line as if it were a thread of gold floating an octave above the piano. Ravel’s Tzigane began with some three minutes of impressive violin solo virtuosity complete with violin double stops and wonderfully tapered phrasing on the part of both violin and piano.

Mr. Armstrong performed the third movement of the Bach Praeludium that opened this delightful concert as an encore. This well attended concert was followed by a reception in honor of our newly appointed Concert Master.

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