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Musing and Amusing


THUNDER BAY, ON - March 8th, 2012 - This is the first season where Maestro Arthur Post has both planned and Martin Blancetconducted the concerts of the TBSO. I am happy that he is making use of the superb talent that the TBSO has to offer.

The concerts at Hilldale Lutheran Church provide a good opportunity to show off what the orchestra can do with chamber and lighter works for the orchestra. From my seat I could nearly read the music on the musicians stands. With such an intimate setting with the players one can really enjoy the live dynamics of the orchestra in action.

The programme opened with a divertimento by Mozart for woodwinds. In Mozart’s time there was great demand for occasional music for out of door parties and special occasions, and writing for woodwinds gave the young Mozart an ensemble that was portable, and powerful. Woodwinds are better able to handle being played outside than say a cello in direct sunlight. The Tuesday night concert gave me the opportunity to hear this music, something that we would not normally hear in the concert hall.

The feature of the day involved TBSO bassist Martin Blanchet. His divertimento composed by Ramsler is a modern piece and one that I was not acquainted with. There is a challenge win writing for the bass. It is meant to always provide a firm foundation for other instruments to play above it. As a result  is can be difficult for the bass melody to project to the fore when it is required to play a solo role. Ramsler solved part of this problem by having the bass play unaccompanied in the introduction and also during the recitative.

For much of this performance I had my eyes closed and for a moment I wondered who was playing the soprano saxophone. Indeed the bass when bowed hard and playing in its uppermost register can sound very much like a sax, so this is another way that Ramsler featured the bass in his divertimento. Martin Blanchet is a superb bassist and would do any orchestra proud to have him play in their ensemble.
Keeping with the theme of light music, the last two pieces on the programme were by Korndorf and by Korngold. Korngold is well known for his composition for film, but the music on this programme was composed for Shakespeare’s  “Much Ado about Nothing”. Korndorf was something different, he was a Russian immerge to Canada and live for about 10 years in Vancouver until his death.  His piece “Variations for String Sextet” is intended as a tribute to Mozart. While near the end of the piece there is a “quote’ which sounds very much like Mozart and contrasts starkly with the balance of the piece which is written in the minimalist style. Korndorf tried to use the minimalist style to convey an effect that Mozart used so effectively in his own writing. He started softly and serenely gradually building in intensity and volume. It was as though he was musically describing a dew soaked flower, warmed by the sun until it opens in full bloom. Maestro Post suggested that “You get to know Mozart when you get to heaven”. Being an organist I would rather meet up with J,S, Bach!

The TBSO has several good concerts this month. Two that I will be attending will be Symphony Sunday at St. Paul’s United Church on March 25th, this Sunday afternoon concert will feature baroque specialist Aisslin Nosky. Also pops concert with Brian Jackson conducting on March 17th. The Masterworks concert on March 29th will feature Soprano Miriam Khalil as well as the TBSO chorus.

Food and music go well together. On Sunday March 18th the Scandinavian Home will host a pancake breakfast with members of the orchestra serving up the goods. The breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. all for a cost of $8.00. That could be the best review yet!

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews,com

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