VMO News

A Thousand Wind Concert – review by Llyod Dykk

On October 15th, 2011, Filed in: Reviews

It’s astounding that we hear so little of Franz Joseph Haydn, a major glory of 18th-century music. I prefer him even to Mozart for his wit, invention and charm. Mozart had these too, but Haydn put a more human face to them. I revere Mozart. With Haydn it’s more a matter of love.

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VMO 8th Annual Chamber Concert – Llyod Dykk

On October 15th, 2011, Filed in: Reviews

BY LLOYD DYKK, the Vancouver Sun

If it’s true that all the world loves a concerto, then the Michael J. Fox auditorium was the place to be on the afternoon of Sept. 12 to hear Ludwig van Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano performed by the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Hsieh.

The occasion was momentous: the eighth anniversary of a non-professional orchestra that, with more than 60 musicians, is now four times the size of its original membership while the quality of its playing has risen exponentially. It was a happy event and the performance was everything it needed to be.

It was good to hear the for-some-reason rarely-performed Beethoven Triple, which even in Beethoven’s lifetime was only done once. It’s generally thought that the concerto is a throw-back to the form of the baroque concerto grosso in which a small group of solo instruments are pitted against the orchestra. This may be true, but if it is, Beethoven has completely converted the feeling of baroque temperament to the fire of the romantic age.

The soloists were young and stellar: Korean cellist Luke Kim, Korean pianist Amy Lee and the Japanese violinist Ran Matsumoto. It’s the cello part that’s primo here (Beethoven didn’t want to tax his patron,the piano playing Archduke Rudolf) and Kim shone out, but so did the others. It was a professional-level performance that could have left you in tears.

The key of D Major betrays the origins of Mozart’s Haffner Symphony, no. 35, as a casual serenade, which it was until he retooled it. The performance of this lovable work was marked by not quite graceful enough woodwinds but a finale that was taken as rapidly as possible, as Mozart wanted it to be.

Composer-in-residence Alain Mayrand also had a new piece which wa sinteresting and witty. The meaty program included Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings led with poise by the new assistant conductor, Christopher Lee.

The house was nearly packed. This orchestra deserved it and is outgrowing Burnaby fast.

Coco Magazine interviews Kenneth Hsieh

On October 15th, 2011, Filed in: Reviews

Ken Hsieh’s interview with Coco Magazine, a Japanese publication. Article is published in Japanese.


An Evening of Classical Guitar, Flute and Violin from Japan

On October 15th, 2011, Filed in: Reviews

BY LLOYD DYKK, the Vancouver Sun

Three young Japanese stars in the classical music firmament gave a concert in Vancouver sponsored by the Japan Foundation, the Consulate General of Japan and the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra Society. The musicians were flutist Kazunori Seo, guitarist Yasuji Ohagi and violinist Gentaro Kagitomi.

The Canadian tour to other cities (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City after Vancouver) seems to have meant that the only date available here was Monday, Oct 25. This was a big concern for the local organizers, who felt, though the concert was free, that few might show up for it, Monday being a far from normal night for going out. The Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby was packed, however, and the enthusiasm of the crowd made the evening a complete success.

Next to the piano, the violin, guitar and flute are North America’s most popular instruments, and anybody who plays them in public had better be good. These fellows aren’t good, they’re sensational. They played solo and in combination and their chosen program was an interesting one and not overly done. There was only one mysterious inclusion and I’d happily pay good money never to hear it again. It was surprisingly by Ravi Shankar: The Enchanted Dawn on the Raga “Todi” and I hated it.

The rest of the program was vastly better, headed by Kagitomi’s virtuosic performance of Eugene Ysaye’s Sonata No. 6 for unaccompanied violin, which was full-blooded, full-toned and alive with rubato.

Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, arranged for violin and guitar felt absolutely right for that combination and was magically played. Toru Takemitsu’s three-part Toward the Sea was written in his graceful, impressionist style and consists almost by half of silence. It was well-placed in the program and featured, of course, the flute.

The closing two pieces were pure delight: Astor Piazzolla’s Historia del Tango, and these boys know how to (tango, that is), and Jacques Bondon’s colour-drenched Les Folklores Imaginaires Suite No. 2. A very noteworthy night.