Osvaldo Golijov
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Azul (2006): Reviews
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From: Chicago Sun-Times (Dorthy Andries)

"Azul" is not for the faint of heart; there were also times when everything seemed to be in meltdown.

First of all, the orchestra was completely rearranged, with oboist Michael Henoch and clarinetist John Bruce Yeh on the left side of the stage and French horn player Daniel Gingrich on the right. The strings were sequestered in the back, where they often provided a droning accompaniment. The hyper-accordion, a sonically enhanced instrument, and a series of drums augmented the orchestra.

Golijov can write a melody line — we know that from his "Passion According to St. Mark," given at Ravinia in 2002, and his beautiful opera, "Ainadamar," presented at the festival this June. And there were a number of soaring melodies in this work, which Ma executed soulfully.

The clarinet, oboe and French horn all had showy melodic moments, but harmonies converged and dissonances clashed until the tension between the melodic and the chaotic dissolved and sounded almost like an airplane landing.

Just when the music seemed to have disintegrated into noise, clear lines emerged again, and the cello sang out above it all. In the final passages, the composer wisely gave the cello another rich melody, played with the intensity and artistry that are the hallmarks of this stellar cellist. When Golijov came onstage, the Ravinia audience applauded vigorously.

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