After two consecutive years of inclusion in the O.A.R.’s Top Ten listings (2011 –Sommerville, & 2012 under guest Matthew Kraemer of BPO); a two-year absence. Last evening’s concert under podium-candidate Stilian Kirov and guest soloist Blake Pouliot is a sure-fire contender for inclusion in our upcoming list! The concert was a technical, emotional, and performance gem. Only superlatives will do to describe any of these production aspects. Each of the three selected works demonstrated a specific facet of an orchestral concert.
Canadian composer Glenn Buhr’s short work – “Jyotir” has a Southeast Asian motif rendered in a frenetically rapid pace that features a demanding riff by solo percussion, especially near the culmination. Jean-Normand Iadeluca’s reading was so improvisational and dynamic as to receive spontaneous applause from yours truly…very much a jazz gig –ish response.
The familiar and iconic gem of the violin-solo genre is Mendelssohn’s concerto in E minor. The piece is somewhat unique in that it oftimes deviates from form. Pouliot is such a skilled professional that it belies his young age. From the abnormal opening with its sans tutti (just the violin – no orchestra) to the way that he faultlessly performed the difficult ricochet arpeggios that lead to the melodic recap; he was fully in control. The opening tempo is designated allegro molto appassionato, and Pouliot contributed oodles of the requisite ‘much feeling’ necessitated. F.Y.I. During the 1st movement, there is a brief ‘open G-string’ phrase. Way back in my single-status Montreal Days, we would refer to this particular section as a code-word for the Gayety Theatre’s™ bending of a stripper’s limiting rules!
The short (8-minute) andante 2nd movement was liltingly performed with a soupçon of Gallic verve. Conductor, soloist and HPO musicians were so totally on the same score-page; staff & measure designation. It was as if they were an umbilically-joined single unit. The finale allegro had this listener wishing that the composer had doubly extended his creation. This was certainly of CD stamping grade! Incidentally, this scribe certainly appreciated Kirov’s tolerance of some audience member’s ill-informed & boorish applause between movements. Such patience is a de rigeuer necessity for any HPO podium musician.
Post-interval: – Beethoven’s 2nd symphony… another example of classical brevity in that his 2nd is about 25% shorter than the symphonic norm. The work may be temporally undersized but sufficient to demonstrate not only the technical expertise of the HPO musicians but the arranging and guiding of the guest conductor. Under Kirov, the 1st violins appeared more relaxed and physically less rigid than previously observed. His manipulation of the HPO musicians through the intricate sectional relationships endemic during the opening adagio & allegro tempi pushed both designations, adding a dimension to the work’s technical challenge. A shining example was in the metronomic cadenzas found in the larghetto which is in a sonata format.
The (again) short scherzo 3rd offered the oboe & bassoon ample opportunity to shine…both aced their solos. This particular movement is a technical gem but demanding of both the musicians and the podium.
Conclusion; Stilian Kirov and the H.P.O. meld smoothly and symbiotically. To paraphrase “Terry” (Marlon Brando) in ‘On the Waterfront’ – both entities – “Coulda be a contenda!!!”