CROW (& N.A.O.) PLAY BRAHMS Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

The fourth concert in the Brott Music Festival was played at St. Christopher’s in Burlington on Saturday evening with a continued emphasis on the works of Johannes Brahms.  This evening we heard two of the happier works, both in D major, Symphony No. 2 and the very popular Violin Concerto.
The evening opened with the National Academy Orchestra playing Symphony No. 2, a work in four movements which was conducted tag team by Maestro Brott for the first two movements and Apprentice Conductor- Brendan Haganfor the final two movements

conductors Hagen & Brott

.  Apparently Brahms agonised for ages over the composition of his First Symphony and then wrote  the Second  in a few months.    The music itself sounds more relaxed and certainly happier; it is also very confident.  The cellos and winds open with a three-note motif which is found throughout the work and at times gets moved from instrument to instrument like a bouncing ball.   The third movement is the best known and most popular portion of the piece.
After intermission, the evening continued  with the Carnival Overture by Oskar Morawetz. Maestro Brott said he had, as a very young man, met and worked with Morawetz and had always liked his work.  The composition was as youthful and vibrant as the orchestra playing it and sounded joyously festive.  Unlike some 20th century work, this was harmonic, melodic and although unfamiliar to many in the audience, everyone enjoyed its exuberance.
Post interval, we arrived at the Violin Concerto which was played superbly by Jonathon Crow.  Mr Crow, who looks uncannily like Prince William, graduated from McGill in 1998 and now teaches there, he also has extensive International performance credentials. We are fortunate to have such talent in Canada. Brahms wrote his sole Violin concerto for his friend Joseph Joachim and apparently at the premiere he arrived to conduct with his trousers tied up with an old necktie which began to slip, much to the horror of the audience… fortunately, he did remain clothed to the end.  German audiences were originally lukewarm to the piece but the English loved it and it is now one of the most popular violin concertos.
The young orchestra and the young soloist certainly helped give these happy pieces of music the life and enthusiasm they deserved.  It was a lovely, if hot, evening.
The Brott Music Festival continues next Friday with another concert at 7.30pm… same locale. See their website for details.

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