• “Bach to Waterloo” also Bach to Basics

    • Posted on Jan 24, 2010


    The WCFSO Chamber Orchestra played their “Bach to Waterloo” concert last Saturday night, and that clever title was not only a reference to their Waterloo return, it was a signal that they had gone “bach” to the basics of why they’re so respected and appreciated in the Cedar Valley.

    Any orchestra worth noticing combines solid programming, superb playing, and audience appeal.  Last Saturday’s concert at the First Congregational Church provided a model for all three basics.

    The programming opened and closed with the most beloved of all Bach concertos, the Brandenburgs Two and Four.  Anyone who isn’t familiar with these timeless masterpieces has either been locked in a soundproof room or can’t stand music written before the last century.

     I’ve listened to them countless times over the years, and have seldom heard them played better.  Though balance was occasionally a problem, the opening Brandenburg Concerto with its soaring soprano D trumpet line accompanied by Bach’s complex arpeggios in the strings and winds just takes the breath away.  “Bubbling intricacies,” as director Weinberger called them.

    First violinist Anita Tucker deserves special mention for negotiating Bach’s fiendishly difficult arpeggios, as does flutist Claudia Anderson, bassoonist Kevin Judge, and oboist Heather Armstrong.  Bravo to you all. 

    The church’s acoustics made Bach’s five short cantatas and his “Orchestral Suite” ring, bounce, and echo in that perfect chamber music venue in ways no recording can match. 

    Director Weinberger pays attention to audience appeal, first by programming accessible but challenging music, no small feat.  This, mixed with his detailed commentaries might seem patronizing to sophisticated listeners, but I appreciated his articulate delivery as much as his helpful observations.  

    All in all, it was a evening of Bach that showed these dozen excellent musicians  at their finest.  It was not only Bach to Waterloo, it was going for baroque.


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