Review by Danny Gaisin
It’s been eight years since the Hamilton Philharmonic invited the nation’s renowned Canadian Brass to perform with the orchestra. That occasion was to introduce the new artistic director of the HPO and according to O.A.R. archives; the quintet shone; but the orchestra wasn’t quite up to par. History repeats itself… the Canadian Brass were superb, the HPO under guest conductor Scott Terrell was a little ragged, especially during the opening Leroy Anderson medley.
This iteration of the quintet still possesses some of the kitschy shtick such as approaching the stage from within the audience; the white sneakers (I wore my own too!) Plus the introductory palaver; in this instance including a rather longish fund-raiser solicitation. But the arrangements, so uniquely discernable; the impeccable musical sense and the distinctive phrasing still remain. They group, in keeping with the season gave the audience their take on Gershwin’s ‘White Christmas’ as part of a trio offering. Then, the Shaker Suite’s “Simple Gifts” composed by one of the stalwarts of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. One of this writer’s cousins had the opportunity to attend Eastman while Rayburn Wright was still an active faculty member. The Brass’ worked the piece’s melodic theme in variations that each had its own significance. Then, a comedically delightful rendering of ‘Mister Grinch’.
Post-interval, selections representing the upcoming holiday. The requisite Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker’ including the overture; marche and trepak. Like Bugs Bunny’s take on the Barber of Seville overture; which yours truly now is compelled to sing about ‘Going to catch a rabbit’; this year’s clever Interac™ commercial about the statues and their “Debt; debt-debt” has forever reduced the ballet to an in-joke.
Editorial note: Two and a half years ago, this scribe spent a period as guest of St. Joseph’s hospital with a gastro-intestinal problem. There has been a recurrence of the symptoms but as yet no definitive determination of what ails the old body. For this reason, I was unable to stay until the concert’s end. Apologies to the five guest artists; my readers; and the H.PO. Musicians. NEXT WEEK: – the O.A.R. ‘s TOP TEN 2015