A feeling of revolution hovered in the air as Giordano Bellincampi conducted Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in an evening of Ligeti, Shostakovich and Beethoven.
Ligeti's 1951 Romanian Concerto may seem folksy to those tuned into the Hungarian's later sonic adventuring, but this performance, spirited verging on gleeful, revealed sly sedition at work.
Rustic horn tunings and frenzied folk fiddling from concertmaster Andrew Beer pushed the music above and beyond the usual State-approved folkloric style. An exquisitely turned Adagio revealed harmonic and textural subtleties that might well turn iron curtains to gossamer.
Behzod Abduraimov dominated the edgy circus of Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto.
The Uzbekistan pianist hurtled along, leading the strings a merry chase and enjoying his laconic to-and-fro's with Huw Dann's trumpet, playful sparring that pre-empted more sinister dialogues in the composer's later First Cello Concerto.
The Satie-like waltz of the Lento, despite ethereal wavering on violins, both moved and startled us, especially when Abduraimov revved up to a double fortissimo in one virtuoso roar.
After interval, Beethoven's Eroica Symphony had lost none of its capacity to startle.
Bellincampi's surging Allegro was breezily muscular, with scrupulous detailing, especially in contrapuntal workouts.
Beethoven's finale sealed the theme of the evening, shouting defiance through a lusty country dance, just as Ligeti and Shostakovich would do later, with folksongs and circus jollity.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart