Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Tea & Trumpets Series: The French Touch

When & Where Thursday, February 3, 2022 at 2pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Andrew Crust Host Christopher Gaze

Program Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Satie’s Gymnopedies No. 1, 2 & 3 & Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major

Reviewer John Jane

This Tea & Trumpets concert is somewhat of a misnomer. While the concert is entitled The French Touch, most of the music heard was by German composer Felix Mendelssohn. Concert-goers expecting to hear Lili Boulanger’s D'un Matin de Printemps, initially included in the program, may have been disappointed.

Nonetheless, the orchestra under the guidance of Maestro Andrew Crust provided an entertaining afternoon of wonderful music, beginning, appropriately, with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The work was inspired by the composer’s visit to Scotland, where he was particularly impressed by Fingal’s Cave, known for its natural acoustics, on the island of Staffa. It begins and ends quietly with lilting strings, but quickly develops into a robust hummable melody. The orchestra’s treatment of the overture was exquisitely shaped, bringing out all the textures of the score.

Just about everyone has, at some point, has heard Erik Satie’s atmospheric Trois Gymnopedies; perhaps without intentionally listening to them. Each of the three Gymnopedies share a common melodic and rhythmic structure. They seem to draw the listener in with their gentle simplicity. This afternoon, Maestro Crust chose Nos. 1 & 3 in the main program, then following Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony, generously offered Gymnopedies No. 2 by way of an encore.

Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major, popularly known as the Italian symphony, is a perfectly paced and well balanced work. Maestro Crust led the orchestra through the entire thirty-minute work. The composer’s inspiration is from the atmosphere he experienced when visiting the Mediterranean country. Crust’s warm articulation of the exhilarating first movement (allegro vivace) is spot-on. The second and third movements have a tendency to meander, but the shorter fourth movement (Saltarello) captures all the composer’s joyfulness he must have found in Italy.

Currently, the VSO are putting on these Tea & Trumpets concerts minus the “Tea.” However, there is enough exuberance in the “Trumpets” to keep audiences happy.

© 2022 John Jane