The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, along with the UBC University Singers and the Phoenix Chamber Choir, pay tribute to the victims of the attacks in Paris with a remarkable interpretation of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem.
Just a few hours after the disclosure of the news announcing Maestro Bramwell Tovey as the winner of the 2015 Oskar Morawetz Award for Excellence in Music Performance, the Canadian conductor presented a program which included also Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 in G Major, Military. It was a fine evening when we could enjoy the great level of the VSO. The orchestra was way over the scores, demonstrating that the Tovey’s new award is also recognition for the entire group.
Igor Stravinsky composed his Symphony of Psalms in 1920, for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It’s a work of a profound spirituality but sounds colorful and imaginative. The orchestra, with two pianos and without violins and violas, delivers a sound which reminds to the echoes of a temple, but with different and suggestive accents. The third movement, dedicated to the psalm 150, was the most interesting. The singers showed a great versatility, being able to combine finely their voices, in spite of being part of different choirs.
Joseph Haydn’s Military Symphony came to the Orpheum as a minor work within the program, clearly dedicated to religious subjects. Thus, although finely performed by the VSO, it looked somehow unconnected to the concert. Moreover, those melodies that delighted English audiences in 1794 seem nowadays basic and exhausted.
After the break, the concert featured a delicate interpretation of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem. It was certainly opportune indeed to program the work one week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. The serene beauty of the score, combined with Tovey’s heartfelt baton, made the listening of the Requiem a meaningful experience. Both soloists, soprano Natalie Paulin and baritone David John Pike sang beautifully, but it’s fair to highlight the inspiring delicacy of Ms. Paulin in Pie Jesu.
We should congratulate VSO and Mr. Tovey. Their effort towards improving the quality of the programs and the performances are worthy this new award and those that will come in the future.