Oh, the sheer accomplishment of it all — the accomplishment of the composer, of the soloist and of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra.
That briefly describes the Feb. 8 performance at Sagebrush Theatre of a concerto for piano and orchestra of the works of Clara Schumann, played to perfection by Linda Ruan and the KSO.
Works on the program, prior to and following, gave one the sense of the music that surrounded Clara. The first by Robert, who fought to marry her, is light and joyful. The second by Johannes Brahms, who stayed close to Clara after Robert’s early death, was carefully mature. Clara might have been the cleverest of the three.
Her composition is complicated, challenging and laden with emotion. At the core of the work, a cello is drawn into conversation just too beautiful for words.
Her music teacher father must have been very proud of his 16-year-old daughter when she played this concerto, with Mendelssohn conducting. Is it any wonder that he tried to prevent her from marrying and succumbing, as she did, to wifely duties? She bore eight children, all the while caring for a gifted, but quirky husband. Nearly 200 years later, young Miss Ruan, with this piece obviously firmly fixed in her head, is carrying the torch for her.
The audience reaction was immediate and the attention of the KSO musicians to Ruan’s encore unmistakable.
Next up is a newly commissioned piece for the KSO, always exciting, plus a concerto of composer Ethel Mary Smyth’s creations, featuring two KSO principals. (Interestingly, during a three-year period Smyth spent in Europe, she met and was encouraged by Schumann.)
Also on the program on Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. is Beethoven’s thunderous Eroica Symphony, offering plenty to sink one’s teeth (ears?) into.
For now, let us all think about a suitable venue for our remarkable symphony orchestra.