The first one (June 5th) was a Wednesday noon concert, an hour and a half long, in the eclectic Doors Open for Music noon hour series at Southminster United Church near Lansdowne Park. This was maybe the best DOMS concert I have ever attended there, and I've been in their audiences for several years. They say it's free but you are encouraged to make a "free will offering" to help the musicians and organisers, so it's best not to bring a completely empty purse. This time the musicians were a cellist and pianist, the latter (Michel-Alexandre Broekaert of Montreal) a former university pal of Roland Graham, the artistic director. The girl, playing the cello, was Noémie Raymond-Friset, also of Montreal. The name of the team is Duo Cavatine. The pianist came in carrying a spare instrument for Noémie, saying, "Don't worry, you won't hear me on the cello today."
She began by playing her Baroque cello, with authentic gut strings, but she told us they were wrapped with metal for more resonance, which was cheating, really. The cello had no spike so she had to hold it between her knees with a masterful grip. She used a Baroque bow, too, wider than the modern bow and held further up the stick than at the frog. The bow appeared slightly convex. I must say the instrument played thus made a beautiful sound. She performed the 5th Cello Suite in C minor by J S Bach which is less frequently heard than some of his other suites (in April I'd heard Suite No. 3 performed on the viola, not yet described in this blog). The movements are the same in all the Suites: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavottes 1 and 2, and a Gigue, in that order. I always look forward to the Sarabande and this one didn't disappoint, a very slow and simple piece, sad but serene. Here is a recording of Yo-Yo Ma playing it:
The last two movements were executed with nice variations in the dynamics as well as the melody lines.
This girl was particularly good at the attack when she began to play each section or each variation on a theme and this was noticeable in the rest of the concert too. The middle item on the programme was Beethoven's Sonata No. 2 in G minor, composed when he was young, and according to the performers, "full of humour and light," before his life became tragic. The Adagio opening was melodic, like something by Schubert, and then it changed to "allegro molto piu tosto presto" (= soon speeding up a lot more?) in the first movement, with a rondo to follow in the second. No more movements. Apparently this was one of the first sonatas where the two instruments were given equal prominence.
For Thursday evening, I had a ticket to a symphony orchestra concert at the NAC, with a seat on the 3rd row, which I had acquired for free by participating in the annual Musical Lunch arranged by the CFUW. (This is where I heard the viola performance mentioned above.) Mary Partington, who sees to the musical component of that lunch, liaises with the NAC who contribute by helping her to find a young performer and giving vouchers for free NAC concert tickets to everyone who comes along. We don't get a choice of concert, mind, and this year's offering was not to everyone's taste (although I personally appreciate this sort of challenge): from the Vanguard Series of the NAC Orchestra's season: Leila Josefowicz playing her violin in a very modern violin concerto, with another highly energetic young woman conducting, Joana Carneiro of Portugal. The featured violin concerto was the last of four items on the programme and was composed by Thomas Adès, British, written in 2005. It was an exciting piece.
The other three items were also British and also exciting. "Rewind" by Anna Clyne, that started the concert, only lasted 6 minutes; it began with glissandi and a lot of bangs.
"Secret Psalm" (1990) by Oliver Knussen that began the second half of the concert, also lasted 6 minutes, a seemingly very accomplished "meditation" based on something romantic that I failed to identify.
The other item was a fascinating but puzzling longer piece of music (half an hour long) by the Scottish composer James MacMillan, that was meant to represent the "Woman Of The Apocalypse" from Revelation in the Bible, but I couldn't follow the references so easily. I appreciated the title of the section called "The Great Battle", very noisy, especially the brass. I may have been sitting rather too close to the front for this. There was an ethereal moment in the music where the leading string players became an "ecstatic"--- as it says in the programme notes --- string quartet, before the "violent surging" by the rest of the orchestra resumed. Its "relentless, pounding conclusion" generated enthusiastic applause.
Tomorrow I'll be attending a free concert of a different sort, when I attend the end of year performance by the Orkidstra's youngsters. Am greatly looking forward to that one. Again, donations are expected from the audience!