by Irena Syrokomla
– Masterpiece Series –
On a bitterly cold January night at the Centre in the
Square, a faithful audience climbed through high piles of snow. It was worth
it. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 was performed by the KW
Symphony and Russian born and trained pianist Alexander Tselyakov. Giving
the audience exactly what it hoped for, ultra-romantic, vibrant and
passionate – it is difficult to find words for such a performance. Young
Montrealer Yannick Nezet-Sequin, barely 28, conducted without notes in full
control of this very complex and mature piece. Tselyakov, again without
notes, overwhelmed the concert goers as he gave himself to the music of his
motherland. The applause was so prolonged and insistent that – rarely on
this continent – the pianist played an encore, another Rachmaninoff prelude.
It was an amazing accomplishment considering the fact that both Nezet-Sequin
and Tselyakov were guest artists who had little time to rehearse with this
Joan Tower’s For the Uncommon Woman composed in 1992,
provided an interesting fanfare, both emotional and modernistic. Cesar
Franck’s Symphony in D Minor completed the evening. Nezet-Sequin
obviously had great appreciation of the French composer and handled it with
full appreciation for its romantic and operatic style.
In the crowded foyer, music lovers engaged in vivid
discussions on the recent dismissal of Martin Fischer-Dieskau. They were not
pleased. Repetitive inquiries were made whether they or their friends would
renew their subscriptions. Comments about the dismissal were freely offered
and exchanged. It is almost two months since the most unfortunate decision
was made but the case is not finished by any means.
I cannot add any more to the opinions exchanged on the pages
of The Record by professionally qualified, highly regarded and
well-known personalities, as well as concert going individuals who feel
cheated and disregarded. However, I regret the decision of the Artistic
Director and the Board, wait for some disclosure and justification, and wish
for a satisfactory turn-around.
The next concert of the Masterpiece Series scheduled for
February 20 and 21 was to be conducted by Fischer-Dieskau and themed ‘From
Berlin to Kitchener’. Unfortunately, Martin Fischer-Dieskau is not going to
be conducting, and our orchestra is not going to Berlin. Regrettable.
On Friday January 23 it has been announced that Martin
Fischer-Dieskau will not be rehired and that K-W Symphony has appointed
Simon Streateild as a principal conductor for the next 18 months. He is best
known as a founder of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, an individual
much accomplished and respected in his field. Hopefully Martin’s departure
will not be held against him.
Steel Magnolias at The Waterloo Stage Theatre
On yet another one of our cold Canadian winter nights, Steve
Roth scheduled an uplifting comedy, and on this Saturday night the house was
full and the audience was quite receptive to the light jokes and memorable
Steel Magnolias reminded me somehow of Shaking the
Dew from the Lilies which I had seen in December 2002 at The Registry
Theatre. It is also very much "a woman’s play", with six women meeting over
the period of several years in the feminine environment of a hairdressing
salon. A hair salon owner, her assistant, a mother and daughter visiting the
establishment, and two other customers show the involved world of their
problems: children, weddings, husbands, and careers. These are friends
watching out for each other, caring for each other, and supporting each
other in times of both crisis and joy.
The play is very emotional, full of exclamation marks and
italics, with small humorous details, like a conversation about earrings
made as a result of discovering the world of arts and crafts. I am not sure
if playwright Robert Harling invented such phrases as " He has more money
than God" and "If it does not kill us then it will make us stronger" but
these familiar colloquialisms were still strong enough to bring wholehearted
laughter from the audience.
The stage design was good, the acting professional and
balanced. The strong southern accents and mannerisms were on occasion so
heavy-handed that at times it was difficult to understand the dialogue.
M’Lynn Eatenton is especially worth mentioning as her stylized character of
the southern-belle mother concerned with the well-being of her daughter was
particularly touching. Though this play is considered a comedy, it left us
with an unexpected insight into mother-daughter relationships and the deep
friendships so characteristic between women.
Steel Magnolias is running till February 14. It would
brighten up your wintry evening. So give the theatre a call 519-888-0000 and
have a pleasant evening.
Next play scheduled from March 4 to April 3 is Man of La
Mancha. And I am planning to see it!