Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

French horn gets starring role in MCO production

  • Print

The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra's third concert of its season offered a closer look at one of the unsung heroes of the orchestra: the french horn. Wednesday's program led by guest conductor/virtuoso horn player James Sommerville featured the acclaimed musician performing with his former pupil, longtime MCO principal horn Patricia Evans, who leads the section for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Besides being principal horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Sommerville has also served as Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra's music director since 2007. The affable musician has appeared as soloist with major orchestras throughout the world during his 25-year career and last performed with the MCO in 1999.

Concert review

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Westminster United Church
Wednesday, Nov. 27
Attendance: 772
3-1/2 stars

Beethoven's early Sextet in E-flat for Two Horns and Strings, Op. 81b provided the first taste of the two horn players' artistry, as well as a fascinating compendium of what the horn can do.

The pair took turns during the Allegro con brio, trading cascading figuration, rising declamatory themes and quick-tongued ornamentation, along with showcasing the instrument's wide dynamic palette. The Adagio highlighted Sommerville's renowned mellow tone and ability to spin legato phrases. The finale Rondo: Allegro began with Evans' off-and-running hunting-horn theme, picked up by her partner's buoyant work that also included forceful accents and leaping octaves.

Sommerville performed/conducted Mozart's Horn Concerto in E-flat Major, K370b/371 with the Wunderkind's skeletal, incomplete score reconstructed a scant 25 years ago by arranger Robert D. Levin. This allowed another opportunity to hear the gifted musician in action, as well as multi-tasking abilities that saw him crisply cuing the orchestra between his own solo sections.

The MCO has an enviable track record commissioning new music from an astonishing stable of Canadian composers. The world premiere of Manitoban Karen Sunabacka's Never to Return builds on her earlier autobiographical work, Born by the River, performed by the MCO last season.

Paying homage to her Scottish-born great-great-grandmother Mathilda, the one-movement string orchestra work reflects her ancestor's physical and emotional journey after settling in the province with her Canadian husband. After descending into harrowing madness, she ultimately became committed to an asylum in the late 1880s, where she spent the rest of her days.

Sunabacka's sensitive writing evokes the wide-open space of the Prairies. Fragments of three Scottish folk melodies are woven throughout the piece like threads in a kilt, infusing it with a sense of authenticity. However, at times, the composer's (mostly) sparse orchestration became too much of a good thing, with the piece increasingly losing momentum, despite shrieking tone clusters played by the violins. Its most effective moments were near the end, when the players came together in a more harmonically compelling fusion of sonorities.

Every concert has its own rhythm, and admittedly, it felt jarring to hear an altered program order. Sandwiching Lutoslawski's powerful, yet utterly desolate Musique funèbre (Music of Mourning) between the sprightly Mozart concerto and Joseph Boulogne's Symphony in D Major, Op. 11 No. 2 played havoc with the evening's energy. It would have been much better to leave well enough alone.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2013 D2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google