The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
VSO@Home on YouTube

Date May 21, 2020 at 7:30pm | Pyatt Hall

Featured musicians Grace Huang - Piano, Nicholas Wright - violin, Christie Reside - flute, Vern Griffiths – percussion, Larry Knopp, Michelle Goddard & Vincent Vohradsky - trumpets, Oliver de Clerq, David Haskins & Andrew Mee - french horns, Brian Wendel, Andrew Poirier & Ilan Morgenstein - trombones, Pedr MacLellan - tuba

Program Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV 1013; Gabriel Fauré’s: Violin Sonata in A Major, Opus 13; Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel

Reviewer John Jane

This was the third streaming event in the VSO@Home series; a music performance format that allows the VSO to play for audiences while public performances are presently restricted. This 37 minute live-streamed concert begins appropriately with a fanfare. Whilst Fanfare for the Common Man is filmed and recorded in isolation at different times and separate locations by ten brass musicians and percussionist Aaron Macdonald, the performance has the quality of being seamlessly synchronized.

Written in 1942 for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man begins with dramatic percussion, followed by heroic trumpet notes. The entire piece clocks in at under four minutes, but offers magnificent resonance in that time. Like many who started listening to rock music before listening to classical, I first heard “Fanfare” performed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, a British progressive rock trio. Thankfully, I’ve gone on to appreciate symphonic versions. It’s a piece that the VSO have played numerous times, particularly in their popular Tea & Trumpet matinee concerts.

By contrast, the other three works were performed live in Pyatt Hall. Concertmaster Nicholas Wright and pianist Grace Huang come together (musically, but physically two metres apart) for Allegro Molto, the first movement in Gabriel Fauré’s melodic Violin Sonata in A Major. The sonata is thought of by many as the most popular of all Fauré’s chamber works and with good reason. Wright certainly displays the composer’s refined modulation and use of unpredictable rhythms.

In her introduction, principal flautist Christie Reside described Spiegel im Spiegel as minimalist music, and although Arvo Pärt might not share her considered opinion, the work is essentially constructed around a single note. Joined by Vern Griffiths on vibraphone, Ms. Reside delivers a charming interpretation that approaches the meter of a lullaby – in a good way. During the performance, the video occasionally breaks away to showcase the store front artwork seen recently on Robson street just prior to it being taken down. Christie Reside, who was on extended leave last season, also performed the challenging Partita in A minor for solo flute in four movements as part of the program.

© 2020 John Jane