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An eager audience gathered on Friday evening at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church to hear James Knudson perform the First Cello Concerto of Camille Saint-Saens with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra.
There were, most likely, physicists from the LANL Neutron Scattering Center in the crowd who were stunned to find that their unassuming colleague can do some marvelous things with a cello.
His performance projected confidence and a thorough understanding of a difficult score.
The performance space at IHM is cramped. I wondered where in the world they would find space for Knudson so he could see the conductor and still be visible to the audience.
A raised platform in front of conductor Michael Gyurik solved the problem beautifully and allowed Knudson’s warm sound to flow out over the orchestra.
His first entrance sent a signal that this was going to be a solid performance, not always a sure thing with an amateur performer.
This concerto calls for mastery of the full range of the cello and Knudson demonstrated that he knows his way around the fingerboard, even in its most extreme upper register. He negotiated difficult parallel octave and double-stop passages with admirable skill and spot-on intonation.
The lyrical middle movement was lovely.
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