This weekend, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra welcomed guest conductor and baroque music specialist Ivars Taurins for Bach’s Playlist.
The concert featured music that would have been popular during Johann Sebastian Bach’s lifetime and would likely have found a place among his top 20 faves.
First up was Concerto in D Minor by Antonio Vivaldi, an Italian contemporary of Bach’s. This piece abounded with sparkling passages and featured lovely violin solos by Susan Schaffer and Martine den Bok. Altogether a promising start to the evening.
Next was a clever arrangement of Bach’s own keyboard piece, Italian Concerto. The orchestra captured the contrasting moods of this piece, with Taurins conducting the intent of the music rather than keeping the beat, resulting in a performance that was rich in subtleties.
Tomaso Albinoni’s Concerto Grosso in E Minor was next. Well-balanced playing and excellent ensemble marked the performance. Kudos to violinist Narumi Higuchi for her energetic solos.
The first half of the program closed with Suite in F Major by Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra shone with its attention to the precise execution of 16th-note runs and energetic attack. Kudos to oboists Lauris Davis and Michelle Feng for excellent duet work.
After intermission came Concerto Grosso in F Minor by Pietro Locatelli. Replete with canonic and contrapuntal writing, the orchestra demonstrated excellent baroque interpretive sensibilities. Exquisite duet work between violinists Susan Schaffer and Narumi Higuchi brought a sparkle to the performance.
The Sarabande and Air pour les ombres from I Trionfi del Fato and Chaconne from Henrico Leone by Agostino Steffani made a perfectly balanced trio and a perfect segue into the Entre des songes agreable by Handel. Charming and sedate, the music provided a calming breath before the final work of the program.
Under the ever-capable baton of Taurins, the orchestra dived enthusiastically into a selection of movements from Wassermusik by George Phillip Telemann. Beginning with the stately Overture and bubbling through to the breathless Harlequinade, the orchestra kept its focus and energy.
It was a splendid evening filled with rousing and revitalising music. Kudos to the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra for continuing to provide an exemplary standard of musical excellence.
Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher.
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