It's been an artistically rich season for the Boise Philharmonic, filled with dynamic soloists and beautifully crafted programs. That's hard to top, but Music Director Robert Franz found a way to do it with what was one of his most rewarding programs yet.
Franz and the orchestra capped their 2013-14 season with a lush and romantic program that culminated with Tchaikovsky's Fifth at the Morrison Center on Saturday night.
Each piece flowed seamlessly into the other, from the opening strains of Beethoven's Egmont Overture to the final crescendo of Tchaikovsky.
German pianist Alexander Schimpf joined the orchestra for a superb performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. This was his second time performing in Boise. He played a Casual Classics concert with the orchestra's string quartet in March.
The 2011 winner of the Cleveland Piano Competition, Schimpf's impressive command of technique not only sent his fingers rippling over the keys in flourishes, but added a dynamicism that brought clarity to the quietest moments.
Schimpf played with a level of emotional intelligence and attention that connected with the musicians on stage and the audience. It brought cheers at the end of the first movement - perhaps not proper etiquette, but it was truly and deeply felt.
Schimpf finished with a beautiful encore, a haunting arrangement for solo piano of Bach's aria "Sheep May Safely Graze" from Cantata 208 by Egon Petri.
The Tchaikovsky finale was nearly pyrotechnic. With each passing season Franz and the musicians connect more deeply and powerfully.
Led by Concertmaster Geoffrey Trabichoff, the musicians across the board played at an extremely high level, with depth and crisp clarity.
The symphony featured wonderful performances from clarinetists Erin Voellinger and Christina Lee, and the French horn of Brian Vance. Principal timpanist Bill Shaltis added the powerful undercurrent to the piece.
Franz, always a delight to watch on the podium, was in rare form, reaching to the ground as if to physically move the music across the stage.
The next chance to hear the orchestra is at Picnic at the Pops this summer.
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland