Tag Archives: Zürich Academic Orchestra

Brahms, Debussy and a Canadian Voyage

Posted by Liz

New music to start off Friday’s concert schedule with Canadian Voyage at midday, featuring various new works by Canadian composers. The last (and best) piece was Victor Herbiet’s Concerto de Chambre; the piece was written to show that new saxophone music need not be alienating! The sextet (saxophone, 2 violins, viola, cello and piano) was an interesting mix of romantic-style melodies and technique. A very interesting 2-movement work that ought to be played regularly. out of the other works, Soulmate from Chan Kai Nin (for solo cello) was excellent but I found Still Time by John Burge to be harder to fathom.

Moving swiftly to Dominion-Chalmers for an afternoon of entertainment from ‘Alexander Tselyakov and Friends’. True light-hearted entertainment, perfectly suited to 2pm. Tselyakov père et fils started the afternoon with a piano four-hands arrangement of Debussy’s Petite Suite. Subsequently Tselyakov, Arianna Warsaw-Fan and Julian Armour (the latter two, after a few days of sheet music blowing around, with clothes pegs on their music stands) performed the short but very expressive Piano Trio in G major, again by Debussy.

A change of composer to Milhaud, whom I don’t recall having heard in concert before. I thought his Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Op 157b matched the Debussy trio in good-humoured beautiful music, but livelier. The odd discordant moment in the fourth movement added an extra twist. Finishing off with a flourish came courtesy of Saint-Saëns’ Septet for Trumpet, String Quintet and Piano, Op 65.

Later on I headed to Saint Brigid‘s. The heat kept me away from the first half of A Brahms Night Out, but I heard some of the DJ set in the interim and it brought to mind the image of dancing in a field with glow sticks. There was a reasonable audience for Orchestra de la francophonie’s (OF) performances of Brahms’ Third and Fourth Symphonies Opp 90 and 98, plus a new work by Julien Bilodeau. Bilodeau’s piece, Concerto du printemps pour piano et orchestre, had a varied mix including interesting piano parts, a full orchestral scream, lots of percussion and ended with a kind of slap. Totally different from Brahms, maybe almost too different in terms of programming.

Brahms’ Fourth Symphony was the more enjoyable of the two. The OF played well, but sadly not as well as the Zürich Academic Orchestra on Tuesday. It was again refreshing to see a group of young musicians on stage, though I did not envy them having to perform in jeans!


1 Comment

Filed under 2012 Festival

Orchestral excellence – Denise Djokic, Zürich Academic Orchestra; Moscow String Quartet

Posted by Liz

Something of a step away from chamber concerts to something larger this afternoon. Concert-goers at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts were treated to a wonderful afternoon concert by Denise Djokic and the Zürich Academic Orchestra (AOZ). The AOZ, founded 1897, is an 80-odd strong orchestra comprising students from Universität Zürich and ETH Zürich. A fellow concert-goer noted later the smart attire of the AOZ in comparison to the occasionally less-than smart NAC Orchestra. It was refreshing to see a stage full of young people (with a good gender balance too) playing high quality music and enjoying themselves immensely in the process.

First up was an intense new work  – according to the Swiss Ambassador to Canada, Ulrich Lehner, I believe comissioned for the AOZ – by Éric Champagne, entitled Mouvement symphonique no 1. Starting with a chromatic brass element, the short piece was full of contrasts and a good amount of percussion. I thought it a shame to end so soon – the end snuck up almost unexpected.

After this invigorating opener, Denise Djokic joined the AOZ for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op 104. The crowd was spellbound by Djokic’s expressive playing and stage presence as well as excellent playing from the AOC. Whilst the final work, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5, was of equal quality, for me it felt like a slight anticlimax after the Dvořák.

A quick venue change to Dominion-Chalmers for the Moscow String Quartet. I could only stay for the first half, but Borodin’s String Quartet No 2 was supreme and Three Pieces for String Quartet by Stravinsky excellent and unusual! These short pieces were a striking difference to the Borodin piece, but included glissandi and some spiky cello parts. The second work had something of the character of a cartoon chase!

Anyone still without a ticket for Ben Heppner on 15th July should head over to iPricedit.com. The final block of reserved seating tickets are available as a ‘set your own price’ bid.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2012 Festival