TAMPA — Clay Ellerbroek is like an opera singer whose voice penetrates with ease through the sound of a big orchestra, except that he does so with his flute. Friday night, Ellerbroek, principal flute of the Florida Orchestra, was the soloist in a piece made to show off his talents, Lowell Liebermann's Flute Concerto. Guest conductor Tito Munoz led the concert in Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
Typically for Liebermann, a prolific 52-year-old composer from New York, the concerto opened with a fetching tune, strongly projected in elegant, long-breathed style by Ellerbroek, who brought some flair to the occasion, dressed in fashion-model black. The flutist's tone was impeccably secure, even when he was called upon to play loudly.
Liebermann's three-movement, 27-minute work overflows with melody, though I'm not sure what the point is. Perhaps beautiful music is enough. First and foremost, the concerto is an ideal showcase for Ellerbroek, who sold it with complete conviction and finished with a dashing high note, drawing an instantaneous standing ovation.
After intermission, Ellerbroek, back in his principal flute chair, was heard from again, introducing the main theme in the opening movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Munoz's interpretation was on the brisk side — instead of slowing down the Allegretto, as some maestros do, he kept it moving — as befits such a dance-laden work. With graceful yet pointed gestures and stick technique, the youthful conductor seemed to communicate well with the orchestra, though a few rhythmic outbursts weren't as razor-sharp as they needed to be.
Munoz opened the program with an atmospheric Hebrides Overture, Mendelssohn's ode to the fantastic Fingal's Cave off the Western coast of Scotland.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.