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John Lamb, Published November 10 2012

Review: Zimmerman, Simenov dazzle with F-M Symphony

FARGO – Christopher Zimmerman gave the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra a workout Saturday night and gave the audience something to stand up and cheer about.

The second of five guest conductors this season trying out for the musical director position, Zimmerman led the ensemble through a wide-ranging, emotional and energetic program, culminating in a brilliant and rousing 50-minute performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.”

He started the wild ride with Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” a stirring and dramatic take on the Finnish struggles for independence against the imposing Russians. Mixing stirring brass with a sweeping string and woodwind hymn and punctuated by thunderous timpani, the short piece was an evocative opener.

Zimmerman showed restraint selecting a scaled back string section for contemporary Czech composer Sylvie Bodorova’s sadly beautiful “Concerto of the Flowers for Violin.”

The gorgeous lament allowed three-time guest violinist Moni Simenov to finally step forward, but it was in the next piece, Maurice Ravel’s “Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra,” that he dazzled. Simenov’s playing and stage presence was so electrifying, he accidentally hit the suspended solo microphone mid-number. It was the only bad note of the night and the crowd forgave him with a standing ovation.

If you go

What: Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks Concert

When: 2 p.m. today

Where: Festival Concert Hall, North Dakota State University

Info: Tickets are $31, $35 and $63. (701) 478-3676. www.fmsymphony.org

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Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533