Thursday, October 26, 2006, 8:00pm
Denise Djokic,cello;Kerry Stratton, conductor

Plenty of surprises in “Cellist Romance”, Toronto Philharmonia’s concert featuring hot cellist Denise Djokic.

The final piece of the evening was the Brahms “Serenade No. 2, Op. 17 in A Major” performed by an orchestra stripped of its violins to produce the golden colours that conductor Kerry Stratton said Brahms wanted. The concert opened with a surprise contemporary composition entitled “Jyotir”– a paean to the universal light of Brahma by Glenn Buhr, better known to me as the leader of the splendid jazz-fusion group that played Top O’ the Senator nearly two years ago.

The program notes held a third surprise, one connecting music and dance with military recruiting. I am delighted to pass this one on.

Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta (1933)” are described as follows: “The dances, consisting of slow steps alternating with lively ones, were performed by a group of Hussars led by their sergeant. The impressive display, designed to drum up support and enlist troops, was accompanied by gypsy bands whose players often performed breathtakingly elaborate improvisations over basically simply tunes.”

It came as no surprise though, that Denise Djokic’s playing of Haydn’s “Concerto for Violincello, No. 2, D Major, 1793” was sensitive, nuanced, and technically brilliant. Kerry Stratton is an extraverted conductor and all the music followed his lead towards drama, contrast and clarity. The evening was, as Nero Wolfe would phrase his highest praise, “very satisfactory.”

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