Roberto CaniViolinist Roberto Cani - Photo Credit: Wade Caldwell Photography

FORT LAURDERDALE, FL -- Italian-American violinist Roberto Cani drew a vociferous ovation from an excited audience Tuesday night at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theater for his performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto , the centerpiece on the Symphony of the Americas' Special Spotlight Performance of its 25th Anniversary Celebration Week. Winner of such prestigious musical prizes as the Paganini and Courcillon Competitions, Cani has studied at the Milan Conservatory, Moscow's Gnessin Institute and the University of Southern California. He has concertized throughout the United States, Europe, Russia, Asia and South America and holds teaching positions in Italy and Croatia.

For sheer fire and soul, Cani's traversal of the Tchaikovsky concerto was remarkable. Playing a treasured Pietro Guarneri instrument, Cani's rich tone, fleet fingering and musical depth turned this well traveled repertoire warhorse into a freshly minted, deeply impassioned musical experience. The technical hurdles, which even the legendary Russian virtuosso Leopold Auer felt were impossible, held no terrors for Cani. His rich, warmly resonant tone and fleet fingering from his first entrance after the orchestral introduction took the full measure of the score. Cani's deeply ruminative reading of the Andante (second movement) channeled elegiac sadness and pathos. He chose to play the original version of the Allegto vivacissimo finale rather than the  less technically challenging abbreviated edition that many violinists favor. Cani's rapid fire performance was taken at fierce clip; yet there was no blurring of passage work. With the bravura coda, the audience roared its approval. As an encore, he assayed Paganini's daunting Caprice No. 24, sailing through the double and triple stops with devil may care ease. His zesty rendition of the pizzicato section was stunning and utterly delightful. Recalling in many ways the technical wizzardry and superb musicianship of Tossy Spivakovsky, Cani is a terrific musician and an artist of true stature.

Ever the skilled accompanist, Maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese adroitly dovetailed Cani's phrasing and energy. The full orchestral sonority was impressive and the flute solos beautifully accomplished by Marilyn Maingart.

The program opened with the Overture to Zampa by Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold. Once a repertoire staple, this charming French confection has fallen off the radar in recent decades. From an opera about an amorous pirate, the tuneful score is a Gallic variation of Rossini, replete with big orchestral crescendo. Brooks-Bruzzese led a brisk, light hearted performance that ably conjured up the music's wit and charm. Bright, spot on brass playing and incisive strings took pride of place in a fine orchestral performance.

Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture was one of Tchaikovsky's first major works. Rich in instrumental color and drama, the music sets the mood of Shakespeare's tragedy without attempting a totally chronological tone painting. Brooks-Bruzzese brought passion and fire that emphasized the score's Russian fervor. The glorious love music was appropriately soaring and the agitated music of the enmity between the Montagues  and the Capulets had impact and power. Tonally lustrous playing by the cello section as well as the many flute and harp interjections were beautifully articulated. Brooks-Bruzzese avoided the episodic pitfalls, presenting the score as a vibrant, moving orchestral portrait. As an encore, the conductor offered a lively performance of the Saber Dance from the Gayane ballet by Aram Khachaturian, the mallet percussion having a field day.

While other orchestras and musical organizations have come and gone, the Symphony of the Americas has endured for a quarter century. The ensemble's outreach efforts have won wide acclaim. With continued support, this fine organization will continue to offer excellent concerts and remain a vital part of the artistic community.

The Symphony of the Americas' season continues on February 23 at 2 p.m. and February 26 at 8:15 p.m. with Opera to Broadway featuring soprano Courtenay Budd, mezzo-soprano Donna Balson, tenor Eduardo Aladren and baritone Marcin Bronikowski. For tickets and information,954-335-7002

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