Review by Terry Gaisin
I truly believe it was Wolfgang Sebastian Holmes; the late 17th century renovations expert, who coined the cliché -“If it ain’t baroque…don’t fix it!” Compositions created by Purcell, Albinoni, Vivaldi and Pergolesi, are representative of the musical period that encompassed excessive ‘bling’ and complexity. The Oakville Chamber Orchestra, celebrating 30 years, has not remodelled selections by Scarlatti; J.S. Bach; and Rameau but rather just put a new Handel on the genre.
Maestro Charles Demuynck selected three of Scarlotti’s sinphonia to initiate last evening’s concert. Short but with dramatic emphasis, each selection epitomizes baroque style which flourished from the end of the 16th century until the rococo period around the turn of the eighteenth. Faultless oboe solos by Elizabeth Raum afforded the instrument a rare spotlight rather than the orchestral tuning to its ‘A ’over middle C!
J.S, Bach’s keyboard concerto (originally created for violin; then harpsichord) is also temporally terse (under 30 minutes) and requires technical virtuosity. In both allegro movements the right hand carries the melody; the left – continuo. Like much of the composer’s work, it is repetitious, mathematically formulaic and intricate. Daniel Lau is a superb pianist whose dexterity, focus and concentration are not spoiled with histrionics or over-dramatization. He and Demuynck gave the work a traditional reading without distracting innovation. The resonance of the loaned Bechstein instrument was incredibly noticeable in the adagio 2nd movement. It’s been a decade since Lau last performed in this part of the GTA, hopefully, the waiting period will not set a precedent. HPO, NAO, MSO and OSO – take note!
Post-interval: – four movements from Handel’s Water Music suite. Fortunately, the selections were some infrequently performed movements instead of the overdone choices favored by a certain ‘new’ clazzic-lite radio station that tosses in some music between the ads. This work offered solo attention on the talent of flautist Susan Edmonds.
After decades of exposure to classical music due to a half-century being married to an aficionado, it’s rare to be introduced to something previously unheard or experienced. J.-P. Rameau’s ‘Les Boreades’ suite is one such and the work is delightful. Numerous solo opportunities; representational motifs and charming melodies abound. The movements are interpretive and the 1st & 2nd violin dialogues are especially dramatic.
Socially, the evening afforded us the opportunity to reconnect with confrères from our Oakville residency. The Meissners and Burtons were in attendance and a post-concert updating re-established a special communal relationship. Hamilton isn’t much of a commute; old friends!