Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Latin Rhythms transported a very full Town Hall on the perfect winter getaway.

We started in Spain, with conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto unlocking the gypsy passions and poetry of Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo.

While flames licked and crackled in its Ritual Fire Dance, the musicians brought out exquisite details, particularly in the bewitching Magic Circle.

Martin Lee's ever-eloquent cor anglais would have its second star turn in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, alongside guitarist Slava Grigoryan. The Australian soloist delivered with seasoned assurance, shifting from flamenco fire to langorous lyricism, but why did he need a printed score?


After interval, the Latin spirit was mediated by Broadway flair in the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. This was an energy fest in which the players vociferously shouted their "Mambos", the marvellous Eric Renick took to his drum kit like a kid in a candy store and the closing strings rivalled the smoothest of Hollywood sound stages for Bernstein's teary finale. A lively visit to a south-of-the-border dance hall in Aaron Copland's El Salon Mexico was somewhat overshadowed by Prieto's generous encore. After some lively banter between conductor and audience, a lusty waltz by the Spaniard Geronimo Gimenez was a carnival-closer. There were flurries of castanets, trombone eruptions and the irrepressible Lenny Sakofsky, in skyscraper chef's hat and vaudeville moustache, banging out the beat on a paella pan.

What: APO
Where and when: Auckland Town Hall, Thursday.