Yariv Aloni

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31st Season

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30 is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia

Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra
Yariv Aloni, conductor
with guests:
Reynolds High School Band
Yariv Aloni, conductor
University Centre Auditorium
November 1, 2015

By Deryk Barker

According to Tchaikovsky, the true credit for the finale of his Symphony No.2, known as the "Little Russian", should go to "the real composer of the said work - Peter Gerasimovich"

However, before you rush to volume seven ("Fuchs to Gyuzelev") of the New Grove, I should point out that Tchaikovsky's remark was not entirely serious: Gerasimovich was the elderly butler in the Davidov household (Alexandra Davidov was Tchaikovsky's sister) at Kamianka in Ukraine, where the composer spent the summer of 1872, during which most of the symphony was composed. The finale is based on the folk song The Crane, which Gerasimovich sang to Tchaikovsky.

Yariv Aloni and the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra closed the opening concert of their thirtieth anniversary season with a truly resplendent performance of the symphony.

Matters began well, with a crisp opening chord, followed by a truly excellent rendition of the horn solo by Collin Lloyd (this passage must be a daunting prospect for any player, but he met the challenge head-on and with aplomb); atmospheric bassoons over pizzicato cellos and basses led via a finely-controlled crescendo to a tight allegro. Throughout the movement Aloni controlled both dynamics and tempos superbly and every section of the orchestra gave of their best. The sound at the climaxes was rich, resonant and full-bodied.

The second movement - not slow, it is a short march originally included in the unpublished opera Undine - had a real spring to its step and was full of marvellous orchestral effects, all marvellously played. The music would not have seemed out of place in The Nutcracker; I half expected to see dancing mice on the stage

The scherzo was energetic and featured some excellent layering of the orchestral sections. Here the brass were very fine - as indeed they were all afternoon - mellow-toned, powerful when necessary, yet never overblown.

The scherzo was energetic and featured some excellent layering of the orchestral sections. Here the brass were very fine - as indeed they were all afternoon - mellow-toned, powerful when necessary, yet never overblown.

Actually, even with such splendid orchestration, the music still requires the assistance of a firm hand on the tiller, which Aloni supplied in a brilliantly-controlled performance which thrilled to its final bars. (I cannot help but feel, though, that the additional 150 bars in the original version, which Tchaikovsky removed from the movement when he revised the symphony, would have proved altogether too much of a good thing and might have challenged even Aloni to maintain our interest.)

As the final entry in my notebook read: "what fun!"

Debussy's Petite Suite was written for two pianos and while there is nothing particularly wrong with Henri Büsser's orchestration, one cannot help but feel that there is something missing.

Nevertheless, Aloni and his team gave a charming performance of some delightful music, with some deliciously light-textured playing. The music did not so much smile as beam.

It struck me during the opening work, the Prelude to Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel that I had never heard the piece before. Or perhaps I had, as the melodic material is somewhat less than memorable.

The English Folk Song Suite may not be profound music, but my word it is fun! Especially when played like this.

The opening featured some excellent horn and bassoon playing and the sound of the full orchestra was impressive even at this early point in the proceedings. The main allegro as perky and exuberant, even if ultimately it was also eminently forgettabley.

As a start to the orchestra's thirtieth season this could hardly have been bettered. A special bravo! to the new members, who fitted in seamlessly.

a KATHERINE ROGERS design