Top Menu

Rave Review for Justin Brown’s Debut with the Calgary Philharmonic

Justin Brown made a successful guest conducting debut on April 29 and 30, 2016 with the Calgary Philharmonic, in a program featuring Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, and Vivian Fung’s Aqua.  Kenneth Delong of the Calgary Herald reviewed the performance for the Calgary Herald, writing, “The last few Classic Masterworks series of concerts by the CPO have been exceptionally fine, measured by any standard. And Friday night’s program, featuring Berlioz’s iconic Symphonie fantastique, continued the run. Guest conductor Justin Brown, an English-born conductor now working in Germany, was on hand to lead the orchestra. Now in early mid-career, Brown has an enviable track record, and why this should be so was more than evident in his conducting of this very difficult program. If one were to ask: How was his conducting of the Symphonie?, one would have to say—well, fantastique. There are a great many challenges to anyone conducting this piece: the tempos have to be flexible, yet have a certain backbone; the rhythm is complex; and the orchestration, brilliant almost to a fault, requires much care in matters of balance and refinement.  Brown was equal to all of these things and more, his expressive, yet clear, conducting guiding the orchestra to one of its finest achievements of the season. Brown presented a very clear conception of the work, one that ranged from in the inward complexities of the opening movement, to the dash of the famous waltz movement (played to death on the CBC) and most impressively in the pastoral-inflected slow movement and hellish finale. As wonderful and impressive as the finale was, with some excellent witch-like cackle from Jocelyn Colquhoun’s E-flat clarinet and tight brass licks, it was the slow movement that was the most impressive on this occasion, the infinite variety of Berlioz’s orchestral colours shining iridescently.  And for those who enjoy the sound of the orchestra a grand noise-maker, there were moments of in-the-face orchestral testosterone-charged blasts, especially in the fourth and final movements.  At all times, the CPO gave of its best in a willing way, the orchestra responding to the conductor, the playing clean even in the most difficult passages, and the ensemble remarkably precise. It was a moment to savour great orchestral playing… Brown was at the centre of the proceedings, shaping the music with a sure, understanding hand.”  Read more… 

Comments are closed.