Tea & Trumpets Series
- From Russia with Love
Orpheum Theatre Date:
22 January at 14.00
Tania Miller Host:
There is probably
no better way to spend a damp, dreary Wednesday afternoon in Vancouver
than to attend a concert given by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Arriving
at the Orpheum a full half hour prior to the start of the performance,
I was welcomed in the lobby by a volunteer handing me a cup of hot tea
and a digestive cookie.
years ago the late Otto Lowy, the CBC broadcaster and music critic, conceived
the idea of the ‘Tea & Trumpets’ series of concerts, primarily
for the enjoyment of seniors. Looking around the lobby, this afternoon’s
audience would be overwhelmingly made up of those seniors.
the two previous concerts in this series, Tania Miller picked up the conductor’s
baton to lead the VSO in a selection of fairly well-known and loved works
by masters from the Russian romantic era. Ms Miller appeared on stage
at exactly two-o’-clock without introduction. From the thirty-fifth
row, she gave the impression of being more diminutive and youthful than
her photographs suggested.
began with Mikhail Glinka’s rather appropriate Russian and Ludmilla
Overture, where the percussion kept things moving at a good pace. Host
Christopher Gaze appeared on stage at this juncture and made the only
reference to the afternoon’s programme sharing the title of Ian
Fleming’s famous spy novel in announcing his recent marriage. Mr.
Gaze’s personality was just right for his job as host. His descriptive
narratives were most entertaining and at times even colourful.
piece in the programme was a highlight from Tchaikovsky’s famous
opera Eugene Onedin followed by another excerpt from an opera. This time
it was a more serene melody from Modest Mussorgsky’s unfinished
Khovantchina which featured a soaring solo from the principle flautist.
Arguably, the most recognizable piece in this afternoon’s concert
was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. This music is
easily identified from the countless soundtracks in which it has been
the least well-known piece from this afternoon’s programme was the
atmospheric tone poem by Liadov, (pronounced Lee-ard-off) The Enchanted
Lake, with the orchestra perfectly sustaining the slow tempo. The
concluding item was the dramatic The Great Gate of Kiev from Modest
Mussorsky’s showpiece work Pictures of an Exhibition. With
its stirring melody lines, this piece, perhaps more than any other paints
an image of pre soviet Russia. Hardly surprising that in the seventies
it was recorded by the likes of progressive rock musicians Emerson, Lake
and Palmer and Japanese electronic maestro Isao Tomita.
rounded out the afternoon by giving an encore to a very grateful audience.
Typically, the piece chosen was the Russian Sailors Dance by Kiev
native Reinhold Gliere. Alas, concert four was the final in this season’s
‘Tea and Trumpets’ series, but don’t worry, it will
be back in the fall.
2003, John Jane