Monday, December 18, 2017
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Florida Orchestra makes charming French connection in 'Postcards from Paris' concert

TAMPA — Nothing says French music like the sound of an accordion. Guest conductor Sarah Hicks and the Florida Orchestra took a little walk along the Seine on Friday night in the final pops program of the season at Morsani Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

Yes, Hicks brought an accordion soloist, Patrick Harison, for "Postcards from Paris," which featured music from Gershwin (An American in Paris, naturally) to Debussy (Clair de lune) to Django Reinhardt (a swinging arrangement of Daphne, with guitarist Gil Gutierrez). Harison's accordion numbers included a pair of classics by Tony Murena and Joseph Colombo, Indifference and Passion. And no French program would be complete without some continental kitsch, L'amour est bleu (Love Is Blue), the 1968 chart topper sung by Kersten Rodau.

In a way, the concert was a reminder of a time when French film mattered in the United States, with selections such as the theme — "sadly beautiful, beautifully sad" in Hicks' words — from Michel LeGrand's score for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and a spoofy duet by Rodau and Robb Asklof from A Man and a Woman (1966).

Hicks was a charming, chatty interpreter of all things French, sporting a beret at one point, threatening to conduct with a baguette at another.

• • •

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is gone. The great German baritone died at 86 at home in Germany on Friday. His recordings of works by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and others set the standard for lieder — German art song for voice and piano. He brought uncommon intelligence to opera roles such as the Count in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Wotan in Wagner's Das Rheingold. Soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf once described him as "a born god who has it all."

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

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