February 20, 2012 in City

Symphony review: Music, dance tell of Hawaii

Larry Lapidus Correspondent

The warm feeling flowed both ways Saturday night at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, as the Brothers Cazimero shared the Hawaiian music they have performed all over the world – and the audience loved them back.

Supporting the Cazimeros (Robert and Roger) was the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of resident conductor Morihiko Nakahara. As it had two weeks earlier, with western music icons Riders in the Sky, the orchestra showed itself to be wonderfully flexible, providing sympathetic accompaniment to the evening’s featured act. It also offered delightful performances of an opening medley and the lovely “Beautiful Kahana,” which opened the second half of the concert. The ardent rendition of this number left some in the audience teary-eyed, thanks in part to the cello section and the superb winds.

Special mention, however, must go to the orchestra’s concertmaster, Mateusz Wolski, whose obbligato violin accompaniment to the Don Ho classic “I’ll Remember You” was breathtaking. It illustrated the harmonious blending of disparate musical traditions that distinguishes the history of Hawaiian music in general, which absorbed Mexican, British and American jazz elements as economic and territorial expansion brought these elements to the islands.

Judging by Saturday’s program, Hawaiian culture selected from these influences only those features that express beauty, love and joy, leaving aside the elements of conflict, alienation and struggle.

The divisions between types of artistic expression that are taken for granted in the West also do not apply to Hawaiian culture, or at least not in the Cazimeros’ performance – they travel with a group of dancers whose contribution was essential to several of the numbers.

Furthermore, the evening began with a delightful demonstration and performance by the Northwest Hula Association, which showed how music, dance and narrative can function as a seamless whole.

Still, none of the positive qualities of the music would have been felt by the audience had it not been for the musicianship of the Cazimeros. Robert Cazimero possesses all the qualities of a world-class singer, regardless of type: beautiful tone, impeccable tuning, a seamless legato (joining together of notes), and intensity of emotion.

One would have to search long and hard to find anything lovelier than his rendition Saturday of “When You Press Your Lips to Mine.” It was the high point of an evening that never questioned the supremacy of beauty in music, nor its ability to help us achieve happiness.

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