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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

Victoria Symphony Convincing

By Paul Serralheiro February 2, 2003

Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Timothy Vernon, conductor
Jonathan Crow, violin
Farquhar Auditorium
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
8:00 PM, Saturday January 11, 2003

On a moist evening in Victoria, this Montrealer heard an all-Russian program performed by the Victoria Symphony with the Montreal Symphony's young concert master (and former Victoria resident), Jonathan Crow. Crow's playing was impeccable and sincere, every arc of violin melody well carved into Alfred Schnittke's minimalist interweaving of orchestral voices in his Concerto No. 1 in E minor for Violin and Orchestra. The Victoria orchestra is small by Montreal standards, but it and the small hall (again by Montreal standards) were ideal for the intimacy of the Schnittke, a four-movement work marked Allegro ma non troppo; Presto; Andante; and Allegro scherzando.

The range and skill of the prominent West Coast orchestra were tested in the second half of the program with Sergei Rachmoninoff's Symphony No. 1 in D minor. Rachmaninoff's stirring and sensuous symphony required Vernon and an augmented crew to pull out all the stops to convey the sweep of the post-romantic soul of the Russian master's idiom. And a convincing performance it was.

The University of Victoria's out-of-the-way venue was only half-full; nonetheless, those who attended were treated to inspired and professional playing. A bonus for the evening were the truly thorough and informative program notes by Victoria Symphony violinist Ron Comber, as well as some entertaining attempts at stand-up comedy by Vernon in his introduction to the Schnittke work.

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