Mozart and Brahms: Opening Night 2013 - 2014

Alain Trudel

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Orchestra London's Masterworks Series: October 2013

Mozart and Brahms: Orchestra London's Opening Night , 2013 — 2014 Season
Sunday October 6, 2013

by Brian Hay

The character of "Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman" (I Would Like To Tell You, Mama) was established quickly. When Conductor Alain Trudel told the house it was just "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star— he laughed and so did everybody else. His arrangement of Mozart's variations on the piece placed the onus on the soloists before bringing the ensemble to the fore. The interpretation was light and playful with contrast provided by frenetic playing in the climatic moments. The first solo passages came through with beautifully delicate but sure handed playing by flautist Kaili Maimets. She has a touch that makes her work beautifully distinct. Several sparkling moments in this piece came from the winds, particularly from clarinettist Graham Lord and oboe player Ian Franklin.

Maestro Trudel's interpretation of Mozart's Fifth Violin Concerto flowed with the feathery ease that permeates much of the composers work. Mozart could (and frequently did) turn musical corners on the head of a pin. Several times the musical subject matter shifted so easily it was only obvious after the transition was completed. (Then I was wondering how it happened).The dramatic minor section was played with great tension but even the shift to and from that material happened with astonishing ease.

Violinist Timothy Chooi's playing belied his years. He emphasized tone and expression and was especially strong through the the second and third movements of the concerto. The performance raised the old questions as to how Brunetti, the intended soloist for the first performance, could have found the piece too "studied". Chooi showed immense restraint, especially during the cadenzas. They were his own could easily have been used to showcase his virtuoso skills. He chose to barely hint at them instead.

The ovation he received at the end of the first half was well deserved.

"Any Jackass Can See That"

Brahms' response when someone pointed out the similarity between his First Symphony and Beethoven's Ninth was apt. Anyone with ears can't miss the reference. What marked this interpretation was how strongly the similarity was emphasized. This rendition painted a poignant and magisterial mage of an emotional acknowledgement and a handshake exchanged between the two composers. It could have been the passing of a torch.

That wasn't the only marked difference between this and the brilliant performance given under the baton of Timothy Vernon in May of 2010. The first movement was ominously greyed with the dark hands of the whimsical fates seeming to hold the destiny of the piece under their fickle control. The beautiful sweeping passages of the second movement seemed to wash across the hall. The third movement opened and progressed gracefully before turning to intensely dramatic passages that paved the way for the nod between giants that so prominently marks the closing movement.

It was a performance to remember and a fabulous opening for what promises to be a great season.

This performance took place at Centennial Hall in London, Ontario on Saturday May 5th, 2013. This article was written to convey impressions of what it was like to be there.

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Violinist Timothy Chooi
Photo Courtesy of Orchestra London

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