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“It’s the Season” TBSO

THUNDER BAY, ON   ----   April 1, 2014  ------  Thunder Bay’s Masterworks 5 presented Vivaldi’s the “Four Seasons” featuring Concert TBSOMaster Thomas Cosbey last Thursday. This is the second presentation this season of the well known baroque master. The same music was presented earlier in the season by Consortium Aurora Borealis. I arrived convinced that I had already heard a gold standard performance of this work in November with Jeremy Bell leading the musicians of Consortium Aurora Borealis.

After listening to the TBSO rendition of this work I had a few things to think about, the playing was phenomenal by soloist and orchestra alike. Clearly this was also an excellent performance as well, the problem in comparing the two groups is like comparing apples and oranges, they are both good, just not the same.

For one thing the orchestra is larger, while they reduced the strings to a single bass this allowed the harpsichord to be heard without amplification. The orchestra also played using modern bows and modern instruments and performance practice, the Consortium used baroque bows, and the much smaller orchestra stood playing in baroque performance practice as much as possible with modern instruments. The balance between the instruments is always different when baroque bows are used. For one thing the lower instruments of the ensemble come forth a bit and you can actually hear the violas.

Given that both groups use the same musicians, Maestro Post and Thomas Cosbey set out to prove that there is more than one way to play this music. Cosbey’s performance reminded me a lot of some of the star performances put on by popular classical musicians in Europe. Many of our orchestra musicians have an incredible amount of talent; every section of the orchestra has what might be argued as some of the most gifted musicians in the country. Thomas Cosbey has applied his talent with a liberal dose of excellent showmanship. Playing Vivaldi completely from memory he supplied an accurate and energetic performance of the “Seasons”. Taking the fast movements at such a speed he needed to look directly at his colleagues and conductor to make certain that all the musicians were precisely on the beat. Our orchestra supported Cosbey in a way that would have made Vivaldi smile. The combination of the quick paced music, the energy imparted by Cosbey, quickly won the appreciation of the audience, who often broke out into applause between the movements of the piece. At the end there was a lengthy standing ovation which was only satiated when Cosbey returned to the stage and played a Gavotte from one of the Bach violin suites.

This concert was so full of value. The second half of the programme was Joseph Haydn’s Mass In Time of War. For one reason or another back in the days of commercial CDs this piece soon became one of my favourites. I mentioned to Maestro Post that to present a work like this takes a lot of work and preparation. Much of the credit is due to the Chorus master Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. The chorus was TBSOat its finest. The orchestra, the chorus, and soloists soprano Miriam Kjalil, mezzo Mia Lennox-Williams, tenor David Menzies and bass Jon-Paul Décosse created a marvelous version of this mass. A work such as this requires the best musical resources of our community. This includes the Community Auditorium, and I feel fortunate to live in a city with such a fine orchestra based in one of the best auditoriums in the country.

The TBSO season is not yet finished, something new is an upcoming event called Mozart and Martini’s at Bight’s restaurant. This is conducted by Associate conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and runs between 7:00 and 10:00 p.m.



Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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