A lot of work goes into a Victoria Symphony performance. Here, we see Maestro Christian Kluxen rehearsing his team. (Submitted)

‘Fiendish’ music followed by melodious Mozart: wow, what a concert

Final Victoria Symphony performance of 2019 in Cowichan eclectic

By Mike Mills

Wow, what an evening of contrasts we were given by Maestro Kluxen and a Mozartian-sized Victoria Symphony in the Cowichan Symphony Society’s second concert Nov. 16.

The orchestra might have been small but the music and presentation was anything but. The evening started with a beautifully lyrical suite by Lars-Erik Larsson. It lived up to its pastoral description by some strong flute solos which sounded just like birds singing it a Swedish forest complemented by the lush playing of the strings of the VSO.

Then the most amazing experience followed, when Maestro Kluxen gave us a long and virtuosic explanation of his vision of the Violin Concerto No 1 by the Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. He explained that he saw the music as the progress of a soul passing through this life sometimes beset by agonies and other times at peace. His lecture was given life by the long-suffering Terence Tam who played the odd bar here and there completely from memory.

When at last Terence was allowed to play the concerto he gave a brilliant performance ably backed up by the orchestra who sometimes sounded much larger than the number of players on the stage. Fortunately Maestro Kluxen had said that the interpretation he gave was purely personal and that others were equally possible. This listener did not share his vision; I saw flashing northern lights and the tinkle of falling icicles in a cold stark Swedish forest filled with dark forces that go bump in the night. At one time Terence Tam sounded like Sarasate at his most fiendish. At the end the audience leapt to its feet to give a well-deserved standing ovation for an outstanding performance.

It was almost a relief after the intermission when Maestro Kluxen started a very lively performance of Mozart’s well known Symphony No 40. His first movement was taken at a cracking pace but its familiarity was somehow soothing after the earlier piece. His andante in the second movement was a graceful presentation and in the third movement’s minuet I thought he might dance right off the stage. One could easily picture well-dressed courtiers dancing with him. The final movement was again delivered at a cracking pace that brought a mind stretching evening of great music to suitable conclusion.

It is unfortunate that the continuity of the performance was too often interrupted by scattered applause at the end of each movement, a practice I would prefer to see stopped.

The VSO is to be commended for bringing such an eclectic evening of music to us. To have two such different and, to me, unfamiliar composers to contrast with a well-known composer was refreshing and I encourage them to try more such experiments.

The next Cowichan Symphony presentation will be at Brentwood College School in Mill Bay on Jan. 12.

The concert will feature the Victoria Baroque Players led by the violinist Kati Debretzeni.

For those of you who might have difficulty getting to Mill Bay the Society will run a bus from The Cowichan Performing Arts Centre for a nominal fare. If you would like to use the bus please contact the Society by email at cowichansymphonysociety@gmail.com

What a great way to start the New Year, until then we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you at Brentwood School.

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