DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

SCRUTINY | NYO Canada Cross the Bridge Between Music and Education

By Arthur Kaptainis on July 28, 2015

NYOC of Canada 2015 Photo: Claus Andersen
NYO Canada 2015 Photo: Claus Andersen

National Youth Orchestra of Canada with Michael Francis (conductor) at Koerner Hall, Monday.

It started not with noisy tuning on stage, but a hearty round of applause as upwards of 100 young Canadians emerged from the wings of Koerner Hall. Yes, it was the annual visit of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, as its followers and alumni call it, although “Canada” must be added officially to distinguish the 55-year-old training ensemble from more recent pretenders. The concert on Monday was a night of good sounds and high spirits, usually in that order.

The main event was Holst’s The Planets. Mars is in no danger of losing its bellicose reputation. All the same, the British conductor Michael Francis managed to add an edge by upping the tempo while keeping articulation clear. Seldom has that quintuple beat sounded so convincingly like a menacing, off-kilter march.

In Saturn, the conductor reversed the strategy with a languid approach. Flutes in this movement are hard to get just right, but everything else was suitably hypnotic. We also enjoyed the lively chatter of Mercury; the strange swagger of Uranus; and the virility of Jupiter, even if the great central tune (despite Francis’s suddenly horizontal gestures) could have been stretched a little more. There were intonation problems here and there in Venus, a vivid seductress just the same.

For better or worse, the truly distinctive performance was of Neptune, in which the female fiddlers headed backstage to sing the ethereal chorus, and not very well. Do I ask choristers to pick up the violin? Nor did the slender complement of players on stage do the music justice. Nevertheless, this was an engaging tour of the solar system.

Earlier we heard Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto with Hugo Lee, an NYOC veteran, applying a bright sound and sure sense of curvature to the solo role. I wonder if the long line of the principal theme needed a comma or two. This was not a problem in the finale, alternately gamboling and lyrical. The accompaniment was as sweetly collaborative as could be desired. Lee (as we learned during an onstage presentation) is the winner of the Canada Council Michael Measures Prize.

The opener was the world premiere of monograph of bird’s eye views by Emilie LeBel. Lower case in the title was not the only conventional element of this eight-minute fabric of long dissonant tones and decorative tinkling. Encouraging young composers is not a bad idea, but I was hoping for something more original than this.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook for all the latest.

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis has been the classical music critic of the Montreal Gazette since 1986 and wrote for the National Post 2010-2016. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Ludwig Van. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto.
Arthur Kaptainis

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Pomegranate Has The Makings Of An Indie Opera Classic

By Arthur Kaptainis on June 8, 2019

In an age of edgy drama and raucous music, Pomegranate, at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, makes a remarkably lyrical impression.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Mendelssohn In Birmingham Makes You Wonder Who He Really Was

By Norman Lebrecht on June 14, 2019

This really useful series has reached a clutch of shorter pieces, all of them offering fresh insights into the life and mind of the travelling composer-conductor, Felix Mendelssohn.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | National Ballet's 'Physical Thinking' A Little Short, But Positively Satisfying

By Paula Citron on June 3, 2019

A program devoted to the choreography of William Forsythe is a sound idea, but the triple bill evening needed one more piece.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.