The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra was finally back in town on April 1. The Concert took place at Penticton Bethel Tabernacle Church. Luckily I found a seat close to front and center so I could easily see and hear the great violinist David Greenberg.
It soon became clear to me why the concert was titled Dances with David; he engaged his whole body as he played swaying from side to side and almost jumping in the air at times. Greenberg’s violin was a baroque violin that had an intimate, delicate sound and was played with a uniquely shaped baroque bow.
Being a specialist of baroque music as well as Scottish style fiddling Greenberg combined dances by Henry Purcell that were graceful and sophisticated with a lovely air and an energetic jig by James Oswald, a folkloric composer, in the opening set. The harpsichord, played by Susan Adams, provided a glittery rhythmic and harmonic background.
The OSO’s string players were on their own for Canadian composer Mozetich’s Postcards from the Sky, a sound-painting that expressed serenity, reverence towards nature and spirituality.
For Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for 4 Violins three young violinists Alicia Venables, Colleen Venables and Rebecca Ruthven joined David Greenberg and the OSO Orchestra. They looked enchanting in their evening gowns and obviously savoured Vivaldi’s bold melodic lines with their clear harmonies and contrasting forte and piano sections.
Greenberg played solo in Friedemann Stickle’s Chrismas Day Ida Moarnin, a charming folk tune that caused the audience to tap their toes. It was followed by Niel Gow’s Lament for the Death of his Second Wife with melancholic cello accompaniment.
Now the full string orchestra performed Vivaldi’s Sinfonia al Santo Sepulcro. The solemn mood gave way to exuberant celebration in Jean-Feri Rebel Les Caracteres de la Dance.
In his Suite from Airs, Minuets, Gavottes and Reels Scottish composer Robert Mackintosh combined baroque styles with country fiddling which was characteristic in Scottish music making in the 18th century.
The last item on the program was music by Italian renaissance composers Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Merula arranged by Greenberg. It had unusual ornamentations, syncopated rhythms and repeated bass motifs.
After enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation Greenberg treated the audience with a haunting Finnish folk tune as an encore.