Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra - Scottish Symphony


Auckland Town Hall


Respighi's third suite of Ancient Airs and Dances made a welcoming overture for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Thursday concert.

Developed from relatively modest lute pieces, the Italian composer's arrangements were magnificently delivered by a full and vibrant string section. Giordano Bellincampi's ardent pursuit of detail ensured a subtle, responsive orchestral weave, well-sprung rhythms, and a surfeit of wonderful colours.

Bede Hanley had taken leave from his principal's desk for a brilliant account of Christopher Rouse's Oboe Concerto. Described by its American composer as one of his genial scores, skillful flows of major and minor chords anchored Hanley's shapely rhapsodies and athletic sprints.

The almost sensual sheen of the opening, with muted brass and sprays of celeste, was unforgettable, a mood revisited in the middle section, a garden of sonic enchantment for the soloist's rapturous soliloquy.

Few works are more dependent than Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony on the right performance. The composer's friend, Schumann, insisted that, above all, it demanded a virtuoso orchestra and tonight the APO was in prime form.

Bellincampi shrewdly sidestepped sing-song sentimentality with exquisitely moulded phrasing, peppered with lusty climaxes. One might well have imagined some Highland fairy folk frolicking in the scherzo and, in an Adagio too easily rendered bland, there was a stirring nobility, in passages of lyricism and majesty.