Editor’s note: – The ARTS REVIEW has been in a 3-week hiatus due to the editorial staff finally visiting Europe and the Middle East. Like the Liberals … We’re BACK!
Review by Judith Caldwell
The opening concert of the 5 at the First 6th season on October 10th, 2015 offered us a series of violin duets played by Stephen Sitarski and Lance Ouellette. Sitarski is the acclaimed past-concertmaster & soloist of the Kitchener/Waterloo orchestra & now holds the same post with the HPO.
The concert began with a solo by Martin Noh, a 15 year old student of Ouellette’s. He played the allegro movement from Max Bruch’s Concerto No. 1 in G minor.
It was achingly beautiful, tuneful and a typically difficult Bruch piece played flawlessly and with very impressive maturity by Noh, ably accompanied on piano by Justyna Szajna. Then Sitarski and Ouellette gave us an example of imitative counterpoint from Georg Philipp Telemann’s Canonic Sonata no.2 played with baroque bows.
The afternoon then became part concert, part lesson about violins and bows which was very entertaining, informative and interactive with a Q and A session with the audience. We learned about the difference between baroque, classical and modern bows and their respective sounds and which music was most suited to which bow. In the process the audience heard some wonderful music from Boccherini, Mozart and Louis Spohr and even heard an inverse canon from Mozart which could be played simultaneously by two violins with one playing from the bottom up and the other from the top down, composed that way as a kind of game by Mozart. It was totally brilliant – and that was just the first half, the ‘mix’.
After intermission the ‘mania’ appeared. It began with Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, Op 56 which took duo writing to a new level. It was more complicated, discordant and frantic and definitely sounded manic. This was followed by six folk songs recorded and transposed by Bela Bartok and these ranged from melancholic tunes, to passionate love songs to light and fun dances. Then it was on to atonal counterpoint by Paul Hinderman just to contrast with the opening Telemann counterpoint – it was very different.
Anatolian Folk Songs came next and they were so intricate and rich that at a number of times it sounded like many more than just two violins. Finally the audience was transported back to the classical era with a gorgeous Andante in A minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, it brought us back from the manic to the sublime. This was an entertaining and educational afternoon and this scribe is looking forward to the rest of the series. Next concert -November 28th is an afternoon of tango.