Conductor: Mark Shiell, Soloists: Selena Pettifer (Mezzo Soprano) & Roman Ponomariov (French Horn).
Venue: Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre
With an informative pre concert introduction by the Conductor and Artistic Director Mark Shiell, the programme began with the initially delicate and melancholy Overture to Weber’s opera “Oberon” featuring the French horns – this being the theme of the evening, namely “Horn Power”. The driving central themes were energetic and uplifting, interwoven by musically sensitive romantic rhythms.
The second item featured the premiere of “A Song for Gallipoli” by George Dreyfus to commemorate the centenary of the ANZACs and set to music to a WW1 poem by British Charles Sorley who died at the front aged 20. Selena Pettifer’s enchanting and pure voice captured and expressed the sombre disharmony of war. A stunning performance and presence!
Taking absolute control, Roman Ponomariov breezed into Richard Strauss’s Horn Concerto No 1, displaying flawless tonality and smooth delivery. The lively and poetic first movement flowed effortlessly into the mournful and melancholy second movement. With the last movement, Roman took the audience to another level to conclude with skilful flair and excitement much to the delight of everyone, including Mark Shiell, who brought back Roman for a fabulous encore; this being the third movement of the fourth Horn Concerto by Mozart. Loved the little cadenza!
The massive Symphony No1 by Brahms followed the interval with the orchestra generating commanding contrasts between throbbing and energetic themes and mysterious haunting passages.
With some well presented staccato sections from the violins, the first movement finished majestically. In the second movement, the interplay between the strings and woodwinds was well rounded with some sweet passages from the solo violin (namely Mary Johnston). Flowing into a gentle march like rhythm in the third movement, the clarinets and the plucking of the cellos was very effective, finishing the section with bounce and sparkle. As expected, the finale began energetically which eventually built up to Brahms’ so called “most noble melodies” – beautifully handled by the violins. Maintaining energetic momentum, the orchestra finished the symphony with exuberance and style.
Well done to everyone, including all the volunteers!
SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Musician/Architect) / Rachel Sandey
31 March 2015
Very grateful to Sylvester for such a splendid review!!!!