Vancouver Symphony Orchestra



Conductor: Kazuyoshi Akiyama

Performed at the Chan Centre, 26 January 2001

The evening’s program began with Quercus, a charming, modern piece by Canadian composer, Mark Hand. The music is pastoral and serene. It was written to evoke the natural beauty of the west coast.

The next piece was Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major for Winds, K297b by Mozart and what a joy it was – the great composer at his playful best speaking through his music to the heart of fun.

Conductor Kazuyoshi Akiyama led the full orchestra and the solo group of four with economical, precise movements. K297b is considered a tour de force for the soloists and Roger Cole (Oboe), Wesley Foster (Clarinet), Christopher Millard (Bassoon), and Barbara Hill (French Horn) appeared to have great fun “talking” backwards and forwards to one another through their instruments. Hill’s horn could have “spoken” louder to greater effect.

Le Bourgeoise Gentilhomme, Op.60 by Richard Strauss puts Moliere’s play of the same name to music after the symphonic, tone-poem style of 17th Century French court composer, Jean-Baptiste Lully.

The play exposes the hypocrisy of an unscrupulous aristocrat who cons a nouveau-riche merchant into putting on a lavish entertainment. Strauss playfully exposes human folly through musical depiction in such movements as The Fencing- Master. This ballet music interprets the cut, thrust, parry and coup de grace of the action with strong brass and woodwind.

The Minuet of Tully imitates the Italian composer. Courant highlights percussion and strings. My favourite piece, Entrance of Cleonte, is a broad, almost sad piece including the tinkle of a tiny triangle (tears perhaps) and majestic, triumphant percussion as Concertmaster, Robert Davidovici puts body and soul into playing the violin.

The final movement, The Dinner, had it all. Through the music, I could visualize the guests rich and poor; extrovert and melancholy; those who staggered home and those who stayed until the dawn chorus of trilling birds. The triangle tinkled, the cymbals softly shimmered, the drums rolled, the strings, brass and woodwind hurried the music along to a wonderfully loud crescendo and thunderous applause.--June Heywood