Masterpiece Chamber Music


May 10th, 1998

The Norman Rothstein Theatre


by Ed Farolan

It was quite appropriate ending the season on Mother's Day at this intimate Jewish Theatre.  For the Jews, Mother is the end-all of things.  Madre solo hay una.

The final concert for the 1997-98 season opened with a remarkable Sextet, for woodwind quintet and piano by British composer Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) .  This work was written for the ensemble by distinguished horn virtuoso Dennis Brain who, shortly after its premiere, was killed in a motor vehicle accident.  The opening Elegiac Prelude was quiet and haunting, and the Scherzo that followed was performed jauntily with a sense of underlying anger.  The more tempered Cortege lead to the slow march initiated by the piano, then to the paso doble, light and delightful Minuet and Trio, ending with the Rondo theme--fast, dynamic, almost hispanically passionate and angry in tone.

Premiere Rhapsodie by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was performed by Wesley Foster on the clarinet and Terence Dawson on the piano. Historically, this work,written in 1910, was an immediate success, and was described by Robert Godet as "the most dreamlike of his rhapsodies."

Before the intermission, Artistic Director Terence Dawson announced the 1998-99 season: Concert I on September 20, 1998: PORTRAITS, with musical "portraits" by Schubert, Wolf, Porter, Kreisler and Weill; Concert II on October 18, 1998: ELITE SYNCOPATIONS, with works by Holst, Honegger and Joplin; Concert III on November 22, 1998: MORE THAN A FANTASY, with pieces from Britten and Mozart; Concert IV on January 24, 1999: SOUL FULL, with piano quintets by Schumann and Martin; Concert V on March 14, 1999: MAKING OVERTURES, which will include Leonard Bernstein's colourful Overture to Candide; and Concert VI on May 16, 1999: LEGACY, with celebrated composers including J.S. Bach and Olivier Messiaen.

Following the intermission, Sextet, Op. 191b by Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901), a German composer and pedagogue, ended the matinee performance.  The sextet opened with a Moderato, then the Andante molto (where I found the horn a bit too loud), followed by Tempo di minuetto (I could feel my right foot tapping away with the lively tune), and for the ending, Finale-Allegro moderato, as it suggests, "gay and moderate".

The performers--Camille Churchfield, flute; Roger Cole, oboe; Wesley Foster, clarinet; Christopher Millard, bassoon; Martin hacleman, horn; and Terence Dawson, piano--performed flawlessly and professionally throughout.

Red carnations were distributed at the end of the show to the mothers (who were mostly grandmothers) in the audience. A truly appropriate performance dedicated to the mothers of  the world!

(This concert was recorded for future broadcast on CBC Radio TWO Network for West Coast Performance.)

Copyright 1998 Ed Farolan