Review by Danny Gaisin
The Hamilton wind was blowing at about 25 knots with gusts to 40; the Hamilton (HPO) Brass Quintet was blowing up a gale…of classical music! A free concert at the George Robinson band shell in Gage Park entertained a large group of fans including jammied kids, pets; picnickers; plus collapsibleas & blanket sitters. It was a ‘Tanglewood’ lite occasion and even the threat of rain fortunately held off. An early (7-ish) start offered sixteenth century compositions and the evening ran the gamut to as contemporary as today. Trombonist David Pell doubled as M.C. and offered a non-patronizing introduction for each piece being performed.
The other members of the ensemble were trumpeters Rob Weymouth & Steve Woomert; French horn player David Quackenbush and Jennifer Stephen -tuba.
Naturally, the arrangements for a brass interpretation requires creativity and in most cases, the works were performed so as to display the fundamental melody and theme of each composition. Bach’s Fugue in G-minor was originally created for organ and utilized a Corelli pattern of theme, the HPO brasses gave this famous work a lilt. A piece by Samuel Scheidt titled ‘Canzona Bergamasca’ followed, then the famous Debussy ‘Girl with the Flaxen Hair’. Pell had a ‘senior’s moment’ trying to recall the poem on which the work was based. This scribe tried shouting out Lecomte de Lisle, but my voice wouldn’t carry to the stage!
In some cases the quintet segued from piece to piece thus keeping interest and momentum rolling. Given the venue and audience, this was a creative and effective styling. The modern day offering arrangements were less successful. Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ was over-dramatized and given a Lightfoot-ish repetitiveness. The extended introduction to Stephani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s ‘Bad Romance’ was elongated before the very familiar motif began. The imaginative 1st verse lyrics are “OH” (22 times) and ‘Caught in a bad romance’…catchy!
BTW, Ms S.J.A. Germanotta records under the alias ‘Lady Gaga’
The Hamilton Philharmonic not only is one of the city’s jewels, but is an overachieving and responsive community advocate. Events like last evening’s gratis offering enhances the exposure to culture to a wider (and younger) audience…something that we feel is so important and far-reaching. The opening concert of this season’s H.P.O. is on Sept. 17th, with new Maestra Gemma New on the podium and pianist Stewart Goodyear performing Brahms. Mark your calendars!