“The Brandenburgs”, an O.A.R.’s Top ten contender Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Mar 24th, ‘19

J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti were composed during the second decade of the eighteenth century, but were only so-named in 1870. An intrinsic part of every dedicated collector of classical music’s library, these works are the epitome of the Baroque era. They also have such range as to stating a personal favorite. A lively topic for debate and discussion among aficionados.
To celebrate its thirty-fifth year anniversary, the Oakville Chamber Orchestra spared no effort or venue choice to present all six with guest soloists who were picked from orchestral principals with absolutely stunning resumés.

OCO & solists performing Branderrburg No. 1’s allegro movement

The result was a most memorable evening and helped demonstrate the status of maestro Charles Demuynck’s influence, knowledge and dedication to what otherwise might have been dismissed as “just another community-level assemblage”. The O.C.O. is anything BUT that! Holding the event at the Oakville Performing Arts Centre had two benefits;: – foremost, an opportunity for a much larger audience, and secondly, greatly improved acoustics.
For those few unfamiliar with this work, the individual pieces range in length from ten to twenty-three minutes of duration and each has a different set of instruments featured. Even the size of the orchestra changes, especially for presenting the No. 6., B-flat. Demuynck did not present the work chronologically, but rather based on size and balance. Opening with the D-major #5, the representation is manifested by harpsichord, flute and violin. We especially fascinated by the faultless technique and reading by flautist Susan Edmonds. All three soloists added and energy to this melodic piece. Interestingly, one of the movements is recommended as affettuoso, which to this scribe means play it with love!
The 1st, and one of the longest, is the odd child of the family. It is also the only 4-movement piece. It is lyrical yet seems to be the one most suited to a formal orchestra rather than chamber-sized. Featuring French horns; oboes and a solo violin. Tiffany Yeung who was featured in the above 5th, was joined by Heath Allen & Michael Hindrichs who horns point & counter-pointed exquisitely. It was like watching two equally matched tennis players at Wimbleton.
Number six is performed by seven orchestra members and 3 soloists- two violas and a cello. Beata Csuka was accompanied by violists Rory McLeod & Elspeth Thomson, which ended the first half of the program.
Post interval, the concerto No .4 in G, this scribe’s favorite. Its also the most familiar and is Bach personified. It is and was a mathematical formula that I learned about while attending a master class years ago with piano great Lorin Hollander, who demonstrated how it appears in nature (Pineapples); architecture (the Kremlin) and in music – i.e. Bach’s compositions. For Jeopardy fans, the term is ‘Fibonacci’. BTW, this work is a must have in every flute player’s repertoire.
Number two is in F major and features trumpet, violin and oboe. It is also composed for recorder by this version was arranged for flute instead. Different, but effective. The audience was enthralled by the virtuosity of trumpeter Brian McAuley. This is also the fun-est (sic) of the compositions. Not exactly the most professional way of critiquing, but we’re also a part of the audience, too.

Throughout the evening there was another soloist who fascinated us, the harpsichord playing by Ron Greidanus. His contribution ranged from part of the ensemble to many solo riffs that earned him acknowledgment from the podium.
Next year will mark sixty years of my having the privilege of critiquing classical concerts. Our blog’s maven has calculated that six point four million words have come out of my two pointer-finger typing. Lately it’s been theatre that has predominated, but it the classical concert that is STILL closest to my heart. The next OCO concert is May 25th- 26th.

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