The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Tea & Trumpets Series:
A Baroque Celebration

Date and Venue Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 2pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor William Rowson Host Christopher Gaze Featured performer Emma Hoglund - Piano

Programme Bach’s Suite No. 1 in C Major, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Handel’s Water Music, Pachelbel ‘s Canon

Reviewer John Jane

For anyone who enjoys baroque music, and I suspect that many devotees of serious music do, this concert was an ideal showcase. A Baroque Celebration is the third concert in this season’s VSO Tea & Trumpet Series and the first of the 2018 calendar year. The Baroque period generally classifies music composed from the early seventeenth century to the middle of the eighteenth century that is manifested in a highly ornate and extravagant style.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a highly respected exponent of compositional technique and a master of creating devotional music – what we might refer to today as sacred music. Maestro Rowson’s reading of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in C Major was most certainly ‘heavenly,’ perfectly fusing strings and woodwind. The absence of brass gave the interpretation a light and summery touch.

With fifteen year old prodigy Emma Hogland, Felix Mendelssohn’s old warhorse finds itself in very accomplished hands; although, she did appear to wear too much dress for her own playing comfort. Considered a concerto virtuoso showpiece, the Piano Concerto No.1 in G minor has three movements: Molto allegro con fuoco, andante and Presto performed without pauses, with the brass section signalling separations. The young pianist made the difficult solo passages seem fresh and spontaneous.

George I may have been England’s most unpopular Monarch – ever. But he did inspire the composition of George Frideric Handel’s enchanting Water Music Suite. Counter-intuitively, it’s not remotely evocative of flowing water, especially not the easily recognizable Hornpipe movement. It was originally composed to entertain George and his guests as they travelled up and down the Thames almost exactly 300 years ago. Maestro Rowson thrusts through Handel's polychromatic score, embracing its sublime ornamentation and graceful timbres.

Offered as a fitting, though predictable encore, Johann Pachelbel‘s Canon will be familiar to teens and pre-teens from its soundtrack to the video game Minecraft. Named for its three part harmonic structure, the Canon was joyously performed, ending not in a fustian climax, but a genial farewell.

© 2018 John Jane