O.C.O. visits a musical Olde England Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Distance & time constraints have kept this particular OAR critic from some concerts by the Oakville Chamber Orchestra; the hiatus is over as of last evening’s performance featuring the music of 17th-20th century Britain. From the individual instruments rehearsing pre-downbeat, this OCO is a musical force to be appreciated. In true chamber mode the program was restricted to the strings, including theorbo!

The opening work was Elgar’s ‘introduction & allegro, which like Beethoven’s 6th possesses an intrinsic delightfully-melodious hypnotic.

Except for the emphatic cello and bass riffs; this is relaxing music. Conductor Demuynck’s reading underlined the composition’s inherent drama. Relaxing yes, but certainly no soporific as was Coulthard’s ‘Prayer for Elizabeth’; a supposed coronation gift. Dirge-like and tediously repetitious, the work challenges neither performers nor audience.

Diametrically opposite, Rafe Vaughan-Williams ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis’ is a personal favorite. ‘Back in the day’ when Hi Fi was morphing into stereo, new equipment owners would utilize a sound effects record; or “Persuasive Percussion™” to demonstrate their systems. Not us, Dad & I played the Fantasia to show the sound split! Unfortunately, Central Baptist (in addition to butt-numbing seats) has a rather narrow zone of true acoustical effect. I stood at the rear in order to appreciate the composer’s directorial intent. Charles Demuynck creatively nuanced the melodic motifs and acceded to concertmaster Aleksander Gajic’s interpretive solos. It was faultless and excitingly performed. To close the first segment; The ‘Old Bachelor Suite’ with its nine segments including one titled Boree’. Even my Deems Taylor fails to list such a tempo, but…me thinks it may be a relative of bourrée; a Spanish 4-4 or 2-4-beat dance.

The major post-interval work was Benjamin Britten’s ‘Simple Symphony’ with its alliterative movement titles; including a boisterous bourrée opening. The 2nd movement is performed bowless and the pizzicato effect was so well executed as to impress the best of today’s pop music guitar experts. The 3rd or Saraband movement has a thematically fundamental romantic melody so mesmerizing as it could; with creative lyrics applied; be a hit love song…Michael Bublé – take note! The finale was forceful appropriate finish to an enjoyable evening. One concluding point, this (hopefully)eloquent literary scribe was much impressed with the program notes by principal violist Eric Fahn and the writing style of Esme Davies. Both have an open invitation to contribute to this humble newspaper.

O.C.O. has some interesting musical events coming up. Check out their link in our paper.

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