“Gem” of a concert, & of an opportunity 1

Review by Danny Gaisin & Bryan Dubroy
The dictionary defines ‘gem’ as something prized. Saturday’s 5 @ 1st‘s season finale nearly met that criterion. Something old; something new and a guest soloist still in her teens. A slight delay before the doors opened enabled a last minute rehearsal tweaking, but the hold was minimal. Telemann’s four short-movement viola concerto is considered the 1st known composition for the instrument. The allegro 2nd was performed by a somewhat nervous and hesitant Sarah Derikx. A few minimal tech slips and some note slurring, but otherwise, handled with aplomb.
Mozart’s 1788 E-flat divertimento was performed as a trio comprised by violinist Yehonatan Berick, accompanied by Jethro Marks and Rachel Mercer.

Berick; Mercer & Marks performing Mozart’s Divertimento

The intricate opening trialogue (sic) has Marks viola dominant with an almost contrapuntal cello by Mercer. The dirge-like 2nd enabled all three musicians to demonstrate a deliberate style of emphasis and substance.
The 3
rd movement was given a melodic and lively reading with the theme pleasantly reprised. The next two movements are diametric. .. the fourth being dull while the menuetto had bounce and standing alone could be a typical 96.3FM interval between commercial breaks! The finale was performed up-beat with interesting transitions.
Post-interval, a world premiere composition by
Abigail Richardson-Schulte (H.P.O. -composer-in-Residence). Cleverly structured, the work is gem-like and Ms. Richardson-Schulte seems to have captured the very essence of 18th century post-Baroque period. Her comments mentioned emulating Mozart, but I also would have guessed Boccerini if being asked to guess the work’s origins. She also utilizes creative phrasing. Our only complaint; no pizzicato reprise and way too short.
Bavarian born Maximilian Reger spent most of his short life in Leipzig. Heretofore, our knowledge of the man was incidental as being a teacher to such stalwarts as Serkin & Szell. His trio no. 1 was written in 1904 and while we admit to never having previously heard the piece, there was a sense of familiarity about it. Almost a déja vu. (or deja entendre?) Each movement has all the ingredients for being a stand-alone etude, with demands of differing attitudes and interpretations. The open allegro is denoted as ‘agitato’ which usually means excited…the trio gave it a vibrant reading. We both expressed interest in hearing future renderings of this piece.

Given the intimacy of !st Unitarian on Dundurn, we were mere metres from the stage and thus could see Berick’s electronic tablet score. Seems the progress & evolution from wind-up metronomes have led to synthesizers and probably the next levels will be flat-screen music stands and then perhaps automated video conductors! eek.

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