June 30, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.
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NACO Home Delivery

NACO Soloists Spotlight


SALIERI Concerto for Flute and Oboe in C major

Joanna G’froerer, flute
Charles Hamann, oboe
Alexander Shelley, conductor
[Recorded October 3, 2019]


Yosuke Kawasaki, violin
Jessica Linnebach, violin
Alexander Shelley, conductor
[Recorded February 13, 2019]

HAYDN Sinfonia concertante

Yosuke Kawasaki, violin
Rachel Mercer, cello
Charles Hamann, oboe
Christopher Millard, bassoon
John Storgårds, conductor
[Recorded September 30, 2019]

For this special Home Delivery, the soloists’ spotlight is on the brilliant NAC Orchestra members, in concerts from February, September and October 2019.

First is Salieri’s Concerto for Flute and Oboe featuring Principal Flute Joanna G’froerer and Principal Oboe Charles “Chip” Hamann.  Salieri’s name is known today primarily in the field of opera (and for supposedly poisoning Mozart, promoted by Pushkin in his drama, Mozart & Salieri), but he wrote no small amount of beautiful instrumental music.  While this concerto was written in 1774, in fact, it was not published until 1962.  Listen to the inventive ways Salieri features his two soloists – as a unit, sharing lines or imitating each other, all with virtuosic flourish.

Next, the 2009 NACO commission by Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock, Cobalt, for two violins and orchestra, which is inspired by the night sky just before it becomes dark (that distinctly cobalt hue). This rich, lyrical work is filled with haunting melodies and features the phenomenal team of Concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki and Associate Concertmaster Jessica Linnebach.

Last is Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante featuring not one, but four of our principal musicians. Yosuke Kawasaki, Chip Hamann, Principal Cello Rachel Mercer and Principal Bassoon Christopher Millard undertake a lively musical dialogue in this work that is full Haydn’s classic wit.

NACO Soloists Spotlight: Guest Listening Guide by Christopher Millard

“Profound, airy, affecting, and original.”

So reads the review in London’s Monday Herald March 9, 1792 of the previous evening’s premiere of Haydn’s Sinfonie concertante.  In the intervening 228 years, this classical gem has lost none of its charm and originality. 

Great art is born in many circumstances.  London, in the Spring of 1792, must have been watching events across the Channel with growing apprehension.  Just a month later the guillotine was employed for the first time.  By the end of the year, Louis XVI was on trial and momentous changes were afoot.  Yet Haydn’s genius – transparent and joyous – was untouched.  He was finding huge public success during the first of several extended residencies in London; his 94th Symphony had premiered only two weeks before.  At age 59, he was at the height of his fame and compositional brilliance. 

Haydn’s friend the impresario and gifted violinist Johann Salomon was featured in the premiere of the Sinfonie concertante.  It’s really just a friendly concerto for four players from within an orchestra.  No one player hogs the spotlight, and there is much give and take between the soloists and the orchestra.  Virtuosity shows somewhat, especially in the last movement, but the experience of performing this delightful work feels so much more like a modest conversation among friends.  Each player has a chance to comment, to elaborate, even to joke - and then politely defers to his or her colleagues.  As in any relaxed discussion, often two characters join together and reinforce their ideas.  We see this most often in the pairing of the two double reeds balancing the equally focused gossip between violin and cello. 

I’ve had the pleasure of performing this work numerous times over the years, and am always struck by the essential good nature of the music.  In rehearsal, I can’t help feeling that Haydn is somehow present, perhaps sitting in the third row, smoking a pipe, tending a glass of Port and smiling. 

French Revolutions or World Pandemics come and recede into history.  Haydn’s joyous music remains fresh and optimistic. 

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