Last Saturday’s Community Concert at the Cleland Theatre featured an unusual and innovative chamber music group: the ARC Ensemble.
The Artists of the Royal Conservatory are all senior faculty at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, as well as international soloists, ensemble and symphonic musicians, recording artists, conductors and composers.
The unique combination of instruments, violin, viola, cello, clarinet and guitar, encouraged the artistic director of ARC Simon Wynberg to select compositions of the 18th to 20th centuries that are rarely heard on the concert stage.
Scandinavian Composer Bernhard Henrik Crusell’s Quartet for Clarinet and Strings No.2 in C minor, Op. 4 showcased the warm, smooth timbre of the clarinet. Masterfully played by Joaquin Valdepenas it took on most of the leading parts; the three stringed instruments enhanced its tone beautifully.
In Francois de Fossa’s Quartet for Guitar and String Trio in A Major Op. 19 No.3, guitarist Simon Wynberg added a rhythmic percussive element to the music. The ten string guitar had a wonderful Mediterraneancolour whenever it introduced a melodic theme, like in the Allegro movement.
There it had a dialog with the cello, played by Se-Doo Park, the youngest and only female member of the ensemble. Her beautiful smile complemented her sensitive accompanying. With her cello Park enhanced all the dynamic nuances of the other player’s interpretations.
A duet for viola and clarinet, Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale by American Composer Rebecca Clarke showed the similar ranges of pitch of these two instruments. Violist Steven Dann played a 18th century viola of Joseph Gagliano which blended well with the clarinet in Prelude and Pastorale movements of the piece. The Allegro was a humorous teasing song with a turbulent introduction. The famous 19th century violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini was also an accomplished viola and guitar player. In his Guitar Quartet no. 15 in A minor the musicians had a chance to show off their technical skill.
The viola had a heroic part in the recitative and adagio. There was an exquisite guitar solo with a descending chromatic line in the minuetto.
Violinist Benjamin Bowman competed in brilliance with the viola. Violinist Benjamin Bowman composed the last piece on the program titled Quintet. It brought all the players together.
The composition began with long-held, layered notes, it led into a waltz, then a section reminiscent of a Latin dance. It had a cheerful ending with cross rhythms and bright, witty themes that caused a chuckle in the audience.
It is fortunate that we have the Penticton Community Concert Series; it gives us people in the Okanagan a chance to listen to world class musicians in the intimate setting of the Cleland Theatre.
Roswitha Masson is a concert enthusiast.