BORIS BROTT & BEETHOVEN by Stanley Fefferman

Friday, June 15, 2007
Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto

Boris Brott is a genial personality celebrating his 20th season of festive music making. His National Academy Orchestra based in Hamilton, Ontario, currently mentored by half a dozen very accomplished Canadian players such as Douglas Perry on viola, and Corey Gemmel on violin, has seen 900 of its young musicians placed with major orchestras worldwide during the past 20 years. The Beethoven concert Maestro Brott and his youthful orchestra gave us in the intimacy of Glenn Gould Studio was tonic and refreshing.

Brott’s young associate Martin MacDonald conducted the first two movements of the “Eroica”. His style of conducting is extraverted, somewhat in the manner of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The two hammerstroke chords, the opening theme stated by the cellos, and the chromatic figures played in syncopated rhythm by the violins establish both the tonality of the piece and MacDonald’s firm control of his palette. The version he gave us of Beethoven’s 3rd was high contrast, sharp, and charming in its lack of reserve.

When Brott took over the podium he brought a sense of ease, subtlety and polish to the music. The finale was quite magical in its alternation of passages—delicate and dancelike, slow and reverential, monumental rising towards a deep-rooted climax.

Beethoven’s “Concerto for Piano, Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra in C major, Op 56” known as “The Triple Concerto” has the energy of a form that has no models. It possesses strength and a transcendent freshness similar to the energy of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

The Gryphon Trio merged its excellence beautifully with the National Academy Orchestra under Brott’s baton to give a performance I can only call ‘groovy’, because by the end of it the three soloists, the conductor and many of the musicians were beaming blissful smiles at each other signifying freedom in the groove. Beautiful music.

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