Earlier this month, Gordon Hunt captivated an Auckland Town Hall audience as soloist in Richard Strauss' Oboe Concerto with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Six nights later, across the Harbour Bridge, he picked up the baton himself for a winning programme of Schubert, Beethoven and Dvorak, the last concert in the APO's Bayleys Great Classics series.

After an exquisitely phrased and tended Andante, of considerable lyrical charm, Schubert's Rosamunde overture settled into a zesty Allegro vivace. The programme booklet might have alerted us to hints of the then-popular Rossini, but tonight, some may have heard premonitions of the sparkling Viennese operettas of the Strauss family.

One could sense a stylish Jian Liu and the orchestra enjoying their thematic adventuring in the first movement of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. While the Largo only gained the cohesion it needs with the entry of the orchestra, nothing could impair the runaway good spirits of the closing rondo.


It is difficult to imagine more life-enhancing music than Dvorak's G major Symphony, and this was well caught, from that magical moment when a cheery flute chirps forth from its sombre orchestral surroundings.

Hunt's precision and neatness was particularly appreciated when woodwind fluttered away on the sidelines of the third movement waltz, and the finale's blaze of wild energy ended the evening in a mood of celebration.

What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where and when: Bruce Mason Centre; Wednesday
Reviewer: William Dart