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Charming cellist shines in Philharmonic’s grand evening

Cellist Zuill Bailey’s encore could have put people to sleep, and that would not have been surprising. After a brilliant run of Dvorak, Bailey returned to the stage, smiled and offered a soporific Brahms’ "Lullaby." It was met with "bravos," however, instead of snores.

It was just one part of a grand evening of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, under the direction of music director and conductor David Itkin.

Boyish and charming in his pre-performance remarks (some say he resembles Antonio Banderas), Bailey brought an insight and intensity to Antonin Dvorak’s "Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104."

Bailey, who’s still in his 30s, noted that he has played the piece for 25 years, but it was only in the past five years that he discovered different emotions, likening the selection to life, death and rebirth.

Bailey grasped his cello — a more than 300-year-old Matteo Goffriller, crafted in Venice and noted for its rich tones — close to him, seeming almost to cradle the instrument as he coaxed out emotions. Bailey showed fine skill on the challenging allegro sections, adding intensity to more contemplative passages.

His nearly shoulder-length hair was quickly tucked behind his ears as he worked through the more than 30-minute piece, building to an ending reflecting the joy of living and of life robust.

Both soloist and orchestra worked well on this piece, complementing each other and the work at hand.

After intermission, Itkin and the orchestra returned with Jean Sibelius’ "Symphony No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 82."

Written in the shadow of World War I, it brought a moody but even temperament before concentrating on the will of the world and what resembles a simple but heartfelt hymn before a conclusion that is a bit unsettled before its grand cascade.

This is not an intuitive piece, nor one that follows familiar structure for the musicians, yet it was a robust and adept offering.

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