Review by Danny Gaisin
It behooves a classical music writer to have a sliding scale of criticism; the big (size & $$$) outfits should be held to a higher standard than community organizations. Hearing the Oakville Chamber Orchestra’s three dozen musicians and their director, Charles Demuynck, in performance, they deserve as sharp a pencil point as any group…they’re that good! Unfortunately, last evening’s concert was held in St. Simon’s Anglican Church and acoustically; the closest simile I can recall is hearing a band play inside a Quonset Hut construction shed!
The opening work was Beethoven’s ‘Coriolan’ overture. The tale behind the work is about the semi-legendary Roman ‘Coriolanus’.
Everyone who saw the 2018 Stratford Shakespeare presentation would be totally familiar with the plot. The O.C.O. presented it a vehicle to display tremendous polish and cohesiveness. Totally professional.
Demuynck then introduced teenager Yulai Duan who chose the 1st movement of Mozart’s piano concerto #3 to demonstrate his technical expertise. Unfortunately, and without my intentionally stereotyping, the young man displayed no facial expression or emotion whatsoever. He is focused and completely disciplined and his reading was faultless.
Due to an unforeseen misfortune, the guest vocalist had to be replaced at the last minute. Charlene Pauls replaced Ms. Lecomte (just like in numerous plays & movies), and she is terrific. Her rendition of‘Batti Batti’ from Don Giovanni (Don Juan) in which the almost-seduced Zerlina tries to excuse her behavior made it seem that Zerlina herself was standing before us. Pauls’ voice is superb and her style, spotting and diction is worthy of a Sylvie Brunet (epitomic Carmen). She makes each audience member feel as though she was addressing each one directly; just like a professional public-speaking tutor would suggest. Her treatment of Handel’s Lascia expressed deep feeling and emotion. Then , Delibes’ “filles de Cadix” was given a dynamic rendering with marvellous phrasing. The lady is TERRIFIC!
The major work of the evening, Beethoven’s Symphony #2 in D.. The opening movement is adagio & allegro (3/4 & 4/4) and suffered from a shaky start, especially the horns. Demuynck seemed to almost rush,( i,e, Molto-ed ) the movement. The larghetto exhibited the effectiveness of the wind section throughout the various thematic motifs. The 3rd – scherzo was aced and was definitively a ‘Downtown’ rendering Both 1st and 2nd violins counterpoint each other and the orchestral debates throughout the movement were enhanced by the conductor’s elongated pauses-for-effect. It worked!
The finale Allegro Molto is also the occasionally titled flatulence movement. Given my age, I can identify with that. The OCO musicians seemed to enjoy performing it too, The vigour and musical expressions throughout the finale showcased the celli and 2nd violins. Don’t know how many times this scribe has heard this particular work over the past 6 decades or even how many times the O.C.O. performed it during the past 36 years, but this rendition was a keeper.
Next concert is Nov. 16th & 17th.