The first and brightest star is for Montreal composer Paul Frehner who makes amazing music out of imagining extremes of weather. In 2004 Frehner was inspired by reports of the Indian Ocean tsumani: a couple of years later, he produced Sanctuary, his reflection on an imaginary haven in a vast landscape that evolves over time. Last night we heard Frehner’s musical dream about a violinist caught in a gigantic summer dust-storm slowly moving across the Mojave Desert. The music had the excitement of an abstract expressionist canvas done impasto, where hot oil-colours are laid on the surface very thickly and spread by exhuberant strokes of a painting-knife, smoothly as a heat wave, thick and gritty as a sandstorm, evanescent as an evening breeze.
Max Richter, the German-born English composer ‘re-imagined’ Vivaldi’s Four Seasons two years ago for violinist Daniel Hope: they are two more stars in this evening’s constellation. Richter’s score combines the vivacity and charm of Vivaldi but intrigues by arranging for Vivaldi’s overfamiliar themes to peek, slip and burst through a fabric of minimalist textures. Daniel Hope’s grasp of the music, which he conducted as soloist, was a brilliance of its own, and his playing dazzled but also touched deep emotions.
TSO principal clarinet Joaquin Valdepeñas seemed to be one with the music and the ensemble of local All-Star players as he conducted the Frehner and John Luther Adams’ White on White. Together they complete the constellation of a Five Star evening in stellar Koerner Hall.