The Complete Brandenburg Concerti featured The National Academy Orchestra, now celebrating its 25th anniversary under the artistic direction of Boris Brott. The orchestra presented the six Brandenburg concerti in two concerts (matinee and evening) on the same day. I was only able to attend the evening concert with Concerti No. 2, 6 and 5 on the programme. The venue was the Studio Theatre of the Burlington Performance Arts Centre which housed 200 people, and it was a full house that night. The theatre provided the perfect room-size and good acoustics for chamber music.
(Source: Burlington Performing Arts Centre Facebook)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 is famous for its trumpet part, which is reputedly the most difficult part in the entire repertoire. It was a bright piece of music to open the concert with over twenty musicians on stage. When the trumpet was not playing in the second movement, the violin, clarinet and flute trio blended in to a calmer movement, before the trumpet returned in the third movement. The trumpet soloist gave a brilliant and commanding performance tonight.
The atmosphere became more intimate when the instrumentation called for only six musicians in Concerto No. 6. Only two violas were playing at the beginning and other instruments were graduatlly brought in . The energy built up, and the flow of the music continued. Overall, it was a mellow and beautiful piece featuring the violas and the cello, which was muted to produce the effect of the ‘viola da gamba’.
Concerto No. 5 brought back the rest of the orchestra and was a treat for harpsichord lovers. Bach probably was writing this piece for himself, and the harpsichord soloist gave a virtuoso performance. Since the concert went without an intermission, this was a warm and affectionate piece to close the evening with.
The reason I support the National Academy Orchestra of Canada was the opportunity and support it has given to young musicians, mostly recent graduates from music programmes, who still need the mentorship of established musicians in how to become a professional musician. This orchestra provides a unique platform for these musicians to work with experienced professionals before they join major orchestras in North American and around the world. This evening’s concert is the best illustration of this philosophy. Emerging musicians were performing with professionals, who took on the leading or principal parts on the trumpet (Robert Weymouth), the viola (Brendon Chui), the harpsichord (Borys Medicky) and the oboe (Tamsin Johnston), and led by their enthusiastic concertmaster Joseph Lanza. The younger musicians may occasionally missed the flair of the concerti, but the music quality is made up by their focus and discipline in making music. An added bonus was the succinct and very well-written programme notes. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.