by Terry Gaisin
As for arrangements; “He has his own ideas but always pays homage to the composer”. The quotation was from my seatmate who had worked with Denis Mastromonac- the new music director of the MSO. Hearing the musicians perform Glinka’s Ruslan/Ludmilla overture with exuberance, vibrancy and an added musicological dimension; this is one classy assemblage. Mastromonaco comes to Mississauga with an astounding C.V. and his manner with the music, the audience, and his musicians themselves; is one of respect and co-operation- not dictatorial. No Von Karajan or Muti, thank-you!
The guest soloist was Valerie Tryon and this writer must admit to being a long-time fan of the lady. Her (&the MSO’s) reading of the Tchaikovsky 1st. piano concerto was anything BUT a Van Cliburn tribute. She did not attack, but rather caressingly accoladed every note; stanza and theme. The opening allegro certainly was as majestic as the composer notated. Its flute duet was exquisite and the subtle tempi liberties taken in no way denigrated this iconic movement. Even the opening horn solo being fractionally off did not destroy the effect of the piece. In this instance audience applause may not be traditionally decorous but was understandable.
The solo flute that introduces the andantino 2nd is notated semplice which means – unadorned or uncomplicated. Tryon & Mastromonaco added no ‘bling’ except for the flute opening which was faultless and was a ‘hackle-raiser’ moment. The beloved third allegro was performed with verve and was a perfect vehicle to display Tryon’s amazing left hand. Tchaikovsky himself would‘ve approved!
Post-interval, the MSO presented Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. This 140-year old work was composed as an encomium or homage to his friend the artist/architect Victor Hartmann who died before his 40th birthday. Hartmann’s paintings were on display in the lobby with the conductor giving a pre-concert lecture on the significance of the work – musically as well as artistically. Personally, I found the artwork to be dreary and uninspiring. The themes, however: – a much different ‘kettle’. We did learn of a different interpretation. The program notes by the maestro; assisted by violinist Honey Thomas; considers “Schmuyle” as ‘kvetchy’. We’ve always thought of the scrutiny more reflective of the sing-song-ish method for Talmudic indoctrination of young pre-Bar Mitzvah boys by their rebbe! There were some delicious solo moments: -the horn during the 1st promenade; the tuba, celli, basses & euphonium in ‘Bydio’; and the clarinet riff that makes the Kiev Gate so memorable.
The Board president, bassist Paul Westin announced that the M.S.O. finished its 2012-13 season with a balance in the black amounting to approximately $80,000, this at a time when orchestras and the Arts in general, are struggling financially. The staff & administration must be doing something right. The next concert is scheduled for Nov. 23rd with trumpeter Guy Few as guest.
One of Media’s perks- post concert coffee with the guest soloist herself, Dr. Walker of McMaster’s music faculty; Terry and the new music director himself.