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Credit: Wenfei Ye

Concert Review: Autumn Rhapsody kicks off season of the MacKay United Church Chamber Concert Series

By Alex Binkley on September 28, 2018



Mauro Bertoli selected a wide range of compositions for his September 21, 2018 performance in the MacKay United Church Chamber Music Series including two favourites, Claire de Lune and Rhapsody in Blue, that enabled him to display the full range of his piano-playing abilities.

The event was billed as Autumn Rhapsody but will be better remembered as the concert on the day tornadoes touched down in parts of the Ottawa region. The storm certainly cut into the attendance at the event just as happened to the previous event in the Chamber Music Series back in March when the city was hit with an ice storm.

This time the rain was just petering out as the concert goers arrived and by the time they left, the wind was still gusting but the temperature had risen and the sky was clear. New Edinburgh and the surrounding area escaped the damage and power outages that struck else where.

Bertoli played compositions by Claude Debussy, Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin and George Gershwin, treating the audience to a variety of tempos and playing styles. His final offering was Rhapsody in Blue, which brought the audience to its feet for a prolonged standing ovation. His rendition of the Debussy’s Claire de Lune earlier also received prolonged applause.

Not only did the selections on the program allowed Bertoli to show his prowess, they contained tantalizing passages of music heard somewhere before that were well remembered by the audience. One such selection was Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin. For an encore, he performed Aria by Friedrich Gulda. Judging by the number of queries to Bertoli afterward, the work and composer were unknown to many in the audience but much appreciated and will likely be well researched.

Bertoli moved to Ottawa in 2009 and is piano Accompanist at the Conservatoire de Musique de Gatineau and a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa. In 2016, he won the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prixe for young music interpreters.

He is a founder and director of MitBravour Artist Collective, which is a management agency for music instrumentalists. He has appeared twice before in the MacKay Concert Series. In 2011 he worked with Austrian violinist Wolfgang David and in 2014 played the music of Richard Strauss for Enoch Arden. He has recorded 10 albums and been broadcast live on CBC and elsewhere.

In other words, his concerts are worth attending regardless of the weather.