Review by Danny Gaisin
The Hamilton Philharmonic has a new addition. Percussionist Ernest Portman introduced a glockenspiel to his other rhythm family. It’s a musical instrument, not a semi-automatic sidearm, with a tone and reverberation that is a symphonic enhancement.
There is a subtle HPO difference noticeable under different batons; both sound and individual postures. Guest conductor Theodore Kuchar seems to have established a certain rapport with the musicians that manifests itself in a conspicuously more relaxed and comfortable demeanor.
His style may be deliberate and meticulous, but his unusually enthusiastic animation and oftimes pantomiming ambulation mirror a focused dedication to the piece being performed. His Verdi ‘Forza del Destino’ overture was highly polished and technically faultless.
The guest soloist was violinist Dr. Dr. (PhD2) Corey Cerovsek whose talent is advertised by his selecting the physically & technically demanding Glazunov concerto in A-minor. Played without entre-movement breaks, Cerovsek performed the piece in a sensitive yet passionate reading. The concentration required during the many extended solo phrases seemed hardly a challenge given his informal and loose-limbed stance. The H.P.O. performed in kind and at the same plateau of professionalism.
The major work of the evening was Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. This scribe kind of likes the work, possessing three records of same: – by Szell; Normandy & Mitropoulos…the last with the New York Philharmonic being somewhat of a favorite. Nicknamed ‘Pathétique’, the actual meaning is from a Greek word meaning suffering; reflecting and examining elements of everyone’s life. For Peter Ilyich, this was an inability to come to terms with his own moral deviation. This piece cannot but touch anyone who listens thoughtfully. From its muted and understated opening, the familiar adagio segues to the celebrated allegro which Kuchar directed for dramatic impact as well as opportunities for exquisite wind solos. He managed to exhort every melodic nuance from the HPO musicians.
The con grazia allegro’s atmosphere changes between lilt and pessimism; Kuchar didn’t over emphasize either aspect giving the audience a balanced reading. The final two movements were performed as a platform for the musicians permitting one to recognize and appreciate just how professional Hamilton’s orchestra and musicians are. Unfortunately, the maestro chose not to address the audience with either program information or brief history.
Candidate no. five and his bio confirm the timbre and status of aspirant the HPO can attract. The final guest conductor will be Alain Trudel on Feb. 21st.