Live Review: David Eggert and the ESO

All of our local print media outlets blew a golden opportunity to crown a young, emerging, local classical musician who made his Edmonton orchestral performance debut on the November 21 ESO Sunday Showcase concert.

Born in Edmonton and raised in Sherwood Park, David Eggert began his studies on the cello at the prodigal age of 3 and completed his instruction with U. of A. faculty instructor Tanya Prochazka seven years ago.  At 18, he went to Boston, where he continued his tutelage under Lawrence Lesser at the New England Conservatory of Music for two years.  Subsequently, he returned to Canada, continuing his studies with Matt Haimovitz at McGill University where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Performance degree.  Since 2008, he has been in Salzburg, Austria, working towards a Master of Music degree, studying with Clemens Hagen at the Salzburg Mozarteum University.  He performs on an 1871 Niccolo Bianchi cello on loan from the Deutschestifftung Musik Leben Foundation.

Eggert performed the daunting Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns and from his first entry, demonstrated a confident command of his instrument and the music.  As a performer, his dynamic range is quite starkly varied and his projection was simply amazing.  Even in the softest passages, the orchestra never overpowered him.  His technical prowess is without any doubt and in the radiant second movement, he produced a wonderfully rich and sweet sonority on his instrument.  His fingered harmonics were crystal clear and bell-like.  In the sprightly Finale, his playing simply gave this reviewer goose bumps. 

Eggert has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and honours including First Prizes at both the Canadian Music Competition and the National Music Festival (in 2001 at the age of 16), First Prize at the Eckhardt-Grammaté Competition in 2006 (which culminated in a Canadian Concert Tour as part of the Grand Prize) and a recipient of the Sylvia Gelber Music Foundation Award (administered by the Canada Council for the Arts) in 2009, as the most talented applicant.  During the current concert season he is already scheduled to perform recitals in Israel, Turkey, Slovenia, Austria, Montreal and Cleveland.

The concert programme opened with an interesting piece from Emmanuel Chabrier’s opera Le roi malgré lui (The Reluctant King).  Very Straussian in its overall flavour, “Fête polonaise,” from the opera’s ballroom scene, melded the traditional Polish mazurka with the Viennese waltz, creating an intriguing artistic mixture.  The work is brilliantly orchestrated.

This was followed by a lovely reading of Gabriel Fauré’s famous “Pavane.”  The woodwind solos were simply beautifully played.

Chris Taylor, who has been the Bass Trombonist of the orchestra since 1975, was the featured soloist in “Ballade” by Eric Ewazen.  Originally composed for solo Bass Clarinet, this transcribed version is an extremely technically demanding work for solo Bass Trombone, especially with respect to the performer’s ability to have enough breath at the appropriate times to produce the runs and arpeggiations.  Though contemporary, the piece is not extremely so, being essentially tonal in its overall character.  It explores a wide pitch range, but its virtuosic elements allow for the performer’s musicianship to emerge.  Taylor performed with flair, aplomb and a gorgeous tonal sonority.

The first half of the concert closed with another excerpt from Chabrier’s opera called  “Danse slav.”  The work was lively and evocative of the style it intended to emulate.

The second half began with “FrateVento” by John Paul Russo, a composer who became a Capuchin Franciscan Friar.  The music reminded one of West Side Story.

David Eggert’s contribution came next on the programme and was followed by “Borealis,” a work commissioned by the ESO in 1997 from then resident composer John Estacio.  The music is the composer’s response to his first ever sighting of the Aurora Borealis, which captivated his interest.  It is a kaleidoscope of sound and rhythm, richly colourful orchestrally and full of vibrant movement.  The sounds produced by a marimba played with a violin bow were wonderfully haunting.

Overall, the concert was a vibrant and varied programme, well executed by the orchestra, and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

more in Music Review     |     posted Dec 3rd, 2010 at 5:22pm     

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