Review by George Crotty
“…This isn’t Los Angeles, or New York, or any other major city; this is Oakville…” Anthony Ward-Smith said at the intermission of the Masterwork’s rendition of Mahler’s 2nd symphony on Saturday night. He was right- you could tell you were in Oakville. Masterworks, isn’t exactly perfect, and Oakville is farther from the Los Angeles Philharmonic than it looks.
But no one there last night hoped to see the L. A. Phil; we all went to see Dr. Demuynck do his thing-, which is pretty cool.
I’m on both sides of the fence with Charles. In addition to my work with him for the Ontario Arts Review, I’ve also worked under his direction; and alongside him as well. One might call this unusual, unprofessional, or even a little unorthodox. However, as a critic and musician, I find this to be quite beneficial to my cause. My trained musical ear, especially tailored for Masterworks, enhanced my experience of their performance last night, and their newly improved musical finesse.
Although the strings were somewhat hindered, the orchestra itself felt more inclusive than previous performances, from both sides of the baton. Someone else had been doing some mixing, besides the engineer recording the performance. Demuynck educed an eclectic echo from my acquaintances in the choir during their opening bars, which came together as the piece progressed. The choir and orchestra were aptly leveled, but Ms. Marian Sjolander and Ms. Kyle Engler, were not quite as centered as they could have been. It seemed unusual for such bountiful voices to abide such modest performances. But, I’m selective and demanding; this isn’t LA, remember? Unless one was looking for mistakes, there weren’t any. One must remember that music is human- far from perfect. That’s the magnificence of live music. It isn’t perfect- and it isn’t meant to be. Perfection wouldn’t tolerate human emotion and passion; which could hear yesterday. The combination of the first rate musicians, in style or content, produced a first rate concert in style and content.
Personally, Mahler’s 2nd is a great success for Masterworks, and is brilliantly paired with the Rachmaninoff Vespers in May, but I digress. My friend, Mr. Ward-Smith was right, “this is Oakville,” and it’s pretty good.