Cincinnati Enquirer by Janelle Gelfand
Saxophonist James Carter, music director candidate Sarah Ioannides wow in jazzy program at CCO
…a stunning performance of Francis Poulenc’s rarely heard “Sinfonietta.”
Ioannides stretched boundaries with an extraordinary program that spanned the worlds of classical and jazz.
“Caribbean Rhapsody,” was just one of the highlights of the Chamber Orchestra’s fascinating journey led by Sarah Ioannides.
The highlight of the evening’s first half was Poulenc’s “Sinfonietta.”…Ioannides’ reading of this ravishing gem was fresh and vivid.
It was a wonderful discovery. The conductor made the most of its humorous outbursts and shaped Poulenc’s lovely French melodies beautifully. Best of all, she allowed every orchestral solo to emerge from the texture.
….The orchestra played superbly.
The finale, a stunning dialogue of witty tunes and staccato brass, was given an impressive performance by the orchestra. In an acoustically challenging hall, it was the best-balanced performance of the season.
The concert included….world premiere live performance of “Caribbean Rhapsody” (Carter has recorded it) by Puerto Rico-born composer Roberto Sierra.
As the piece merged into Latin salsa, he picked up his tenor sax for a vibrant, syncopated dialogue with the orchestra. Ioannides was an alert partner, and the orchestra echoed the soloist with split-second precision. Listeners were on their feet.
Darius Milhaud’s “The Creation of the World,”…..the lean orchestration had an arresting timbre, and Ioannides’ leadership was deft and energetic. One could only marvel at its witty syncopations, its wonderful jazz fugue and superb contributions from orchestral soloists.
For a multimedia touch, McCombs, a faculty member at NKU, created an inventive film – fusing his own imagery in the Overture with artworks from Cincinnati Art Museum and even the conductor Ioannides. It was perfectly synched to the music, all the way to “The Kiss.”