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A breathtaking musical journey

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/2/2010 (3162 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When a concert takes your breath away, you know it's something special. This was Tuesday night's Manitoba Chamber Orchestra concert.

In a program that took audience members from the depths of despair to tongue-in-cheek humour, popular guest conductor Scott Yoo and the MCO treated us to a tumultuous musical ride.

In the Concerto Grosso No. 1 by Alfred Schnittke, we were thrown into the polystylistic world of the postmodernist 20th century Russian composer. Six movements were packed from beginning to end with a mish-mash of borrowed styles, artfully combined to produce something uniquely "Schnittkean."

Duo violinists Karl Stobbe and Kerry DuWors were brilliantly matched and played with fearless competence. No easy feat, as the demands were tremendous.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/2/2010 (3162 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When a concert takes your breath away, you know it's something special. This was Tuesday night's Manitoba Chamber Orchestra concert.

In a program that took audience members from the depths of despair to tongue-in-cheek humour, popular guest conductor Scott Yoo and the MCO treated us to a tumultuous musical ride.

In the Concerto Grosso No. 1 by Alfred Schnittke, we were thrown into the polystylistic world of the postmodernist 20th century Russian composer. Six movements were packed from beginning to end with a mish-mash of borrowed styles, artfully combined to produce something uniquely "Schnittkean."

Duo violinists Karl Stobbe and Kerry DuWors were brilliantly matched and played with fearless competence. No easy feat, as the demands were tremendous.

A bit of Baroque, strains of Mozart and Tchaikovsky flashed by momentarily, as the two violins dug in passionately, hairs flying off their bows. Stobbe and DuWors smoked right through the tango sections, Donna Laube accompanying on harpsichord.

Yoo was in total control, leading orchestra and soloists through the endless changes, including the dirge-like Recitativo that heightened gradually into a frightening scream that made your hair stand on end.

The sheer physicality and energy of this performance was astounding.

Tuesday's audience also heard the world premiere of Winnipeg composer David R. Scott's The Widening Gyre, inspired by his Arctic travels aboard the icebreaker Amundsen with scientists studying climate change.

Written for soprano and orchestra, its text is three poignant poems written by Scott himself. Layers opened with a cello solo, setting the mood of trepidation, and the place — desolate, sparse.

Soprano Maria Luz Alvarez sang with precise purity, handling challenging intervals with ease, her facial expressions enhancing the overall effect.

Taut, eerie violin harmonics in A Tangle of Stars blazed like a blinding and endless northern sun. Alvarez sang with forceful commitment, longing for darkness.

Geological Consent offered a sense of relief and optimism, strings vigorous and Alvarez finishing with dramatic finesse.

This was a very intimate and touching insight into Scott's northern experience.

Alvarez also sang Jim Hiscott's The Song of the Stars, with Rodrigo Munoz on guitar and the MCO. With text based on a First Nations poem, this was an enigmatic work, with a rather minimalist orchestral part. A lesser singer than Alvarez couldn't have pulled this off as her notes were seemingly pulled out of thin air. Her clean tone, coupled with Munoz's even playing smoothed over emptier spots.

A nice fuller section came toward the end — a melody gliding through the string sections, ending with a magical star-swept effect.

gwenda.nemerofsky@shaw.ca

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