Thursday, May 26, 2016

reviews - THE MUSIC OF BILLY JOEL & MORE, FEATURING MICHAEL CAVANAUGH & KRISTIN CHENOWETH IN CONCERT - Phoenix Symphony Orchestra

Kristin Chenoweth
photo courtesy Kristin Chenoweth / Phoenix
Symphony Orchestra
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

"Last weekend the Phoenix Symphony presented back to back concerts fronted by two exceptional performers who just happened to have previously starred in Broadway shows at the same time and both earned Tony nominations for their performances. In 2004, Kristin Chenoweth received accolades and a Tony nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Wicked and the year before Michael Cavanaugh earned a Best Actor nomination for his Broadway debut in Movin' Out. Both are gifted performers and their concerts with the Phoenix Symphony, while very different shows, featured exceptional singing and superb playing by the PSO. In 2001, Michael Cavanaugh was handpicked by Billy Joel to star in the Broadway musical based on Joel's music, Movin' Out. That performance, in which he sang over twenty classic Joel songs, led Cavanaugh to receive Tony and Grammy nominations...His concert here, titled "The Music of Billy Joel & More," featured Cavanaugh's silky, smooth, versatile voice as well as his expert piano skills. His infectious enthusiasm and prior experience working at the New York, New York casino dueling piano bar in Las Vegas served him well in achieving a constant connection with the audience....The PSO supplied splendid accompaniment featuring orchestrations that augmented Joel's excellent song structure. These included the stunning wall of sound the strings achieved in "Pressure" and an arrangement of Joel's masterpiece, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," that gave the entire orchestra many moments to shine. ...Hearing many of Joel's classic tunes with a full orchestration and the full, impressive sound that the PSO delivered was a treat, though there were several songs where the arrangements only included Cavanaugh and his band....the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra got two solo spots, presenting classical pieces that Joel wrote in 2001. Under conductor Matthew Kasper's stilled direction, these included, in act one, "Waltz No. 1 (Nunley's Carousel)," a beautiful, mesmerizing waltz with swirling musical motifs reminiscent of a carousel, and in act two, "Air (Dublinesque)."   The Saturday and Sunday after Cavanaugh's concert, Kristin Chenoweth played two shows with the Phoenix Symphony ...Her concert was a blend of Broadway, country tunes, standards, and gospel songs. Chenoweth's powerful, clear voice delivered a sound that filled Symphony Hall with a stunning beauty....Her signature Wicked tune, "Popular," got a timely intro with Kristin stating that presidential candidate Donald Trump had asked for her advice. One of the song's lines, "how to fix that hair," brought down the house simply based on the Trump connection. Kristin's take on "Bring Him Home" from Les Misérables, which she dedicated to everyone serving in the armed forces, was stunning, soaring, and effortless....With help from students at Arizona State University's School of Music, the gospel anthem "Upon This Rock," by Gloria Gaither and Dony McGuire, gave Chenoweth another chance to show off her vocal dynamics, clear phrasing, and powerful, pure voice."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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