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Celebrating Excellence


THUNDER BAY, ON   ----  October 25, 2011  ---  Last Saturday’s performance by Consortium Aurora Borealis in my Martin Blanchetopinion was over the top! The programme titled “Classical Concertos” The Austrian Connection”, was particularly well thought out. I liked all the pieces on the programme. The best things in life never seem to be planned, at least in my case. I take pleasure in the moment and this seems to be what happened with this particular concert. There was something to celebrate in each number on the programme.

One memorable performance was by Martin Blanchet. A concerto for his instrument the double bass provided him a rare opportunity to show why he is the principal bass of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Magic happens when a string instrument is played perfectly in tune. A perfectly tunes note will cause the other open strings to vibrate in sympathy, and during Martins performance of the Dittersdorf concerto there was so much resonance going on in the bass that he barely needed the other players to fill in the harmony.

I am used to hearing the bass in its traditional role of laying down the bass line. In the solo role the instrument is incredibly rich especially when played by a master in the upper register. The instrument also has a much wider dynamic range than the other string instruments due to its size. Martin did a splendid job of realizing his credenza. (he made it up!)

I enjoyed the very first piece on the programme. The divertimento in e flat major byElizabeth Ganiatsos Michael Haydn written for viola, cello and double bass provided a chance to savour the sounds of the lower strings. Violist Patrick Horn shone in the melody role. It is nice to hear the viola clearly on top with a warm rich resonance of the bass and cello below. Later I commented to the music director that it reminded me of music for male voice choir with its low closely written harmonies. She said, “Strange you should mention that, he (Michael Haydn) wrote quite a bit for male voice choirs”.

There was something special on the programme for Elizabeth Ganiatsos. She included the Joseph Haydn C major concerto for organ and strings which she played on the magnificent sanctuary organ of St. Paul’s. The two outer movements were well played and the registration of the organ was suitable to the music and the size of the ensemble. For the organist this is no easy feat as much of the sound sails over their head and land somewhere in the middle of the sanctuary. The slow movement featured a credenza which was highly ornamented to the point where it was difficult to follow the line. I think Elizabeth would had done better to realize her own credenza, one with fewer complications. Just the same a heroic effort and it is nice to hear the organ in concert programming. It is one of the musical jewels in Thunder Bay.

Thomas CosbeyI like this photo. It shows the jubilation that comes from an excellent performance. It was taken during the standing ovation given to Thomas Cosbey at the conclusion of the concerto in A major by Joseph Boulogne. This concerto like the other pieces on the programme seemed to offer the right stuff to the right musicians. Throughout the concert I witnessed the smiles and gestures between the players that only come forth when things are going very well. Consortium had assembled a gifted ensemble for the evenings concert and when the musicians are having fun it is easy to understand why they received not one but two standing ovations during the evening.

Consortium plays again on November 4th.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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