The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra describes its annual
concert as an exploration of contemporary international repertoire and its connections.
On Friday, with the Statue of Liberty on the programme cover, we were taken stateside, setting off with a breathtaking 80th birthday salute to Steve Reich.
We've waited too long to hear this composer's Three Movements, a 1986 minimalist classic. With players repositioned around malleting percussionists, Reich's mesmerising textures came at us in a subtle weave evoking everything from Schoenberg to West African bells. Criss-crossing melodic and harmonic trails in the second movement were particularly effective.
Conductor Fawzi Haimor, expertly keeping this great orchestral locomotive on its minimalist tracks, then chatted to us while traditional seating was restored behind him. Enviably fluent and personable, his talk of dinosaurs and DJs must have made many wonder what lay ahead in the Mason Bates Violin Concerto.
A dramatically gowned Anne Akiko Meyers certainly lived up to Bates' description of her as one of the fiercest fiddlers around. She held her own with admirable tenaciousness in this eclectic shuffle of a score, winning hearts in lyrical interludes that could have strayed from a 1940s Korngold film score.
After interval, alas, Dvorak's New World Symphony, thrillingly delivered, seemed a missed connection to me, decidedly old rather than bold. Charles Ives would have been a courageous substitute.
What: Bold Worlds: New Frontiers, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall