Just weeks ago, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's The New World concert was in crisis, when problems arose with Karlo Margetic's commissioned percussion concerto.
Its replacement, Incantations by Einojuhani Rautavaara, proved a heavensent platform for the APO's master percussionist, Eric Renick.

With a comparatively modest set-up, set to one side of the orchestra, the Finnish composer's emphasis on melodic marimba and vibes allowed for none of the noisy bombast that Sir James MacMillan brought us a few weeks ago.

Directives such as espressivo and poetico were significant and, although Renick certainly let it rip in a powerhouse cadenza, he was just as adept at dispensing cascades of gentle dissonances on vibes and sharply etched dialogues between marimba and orchestra.

As an encore, we were transported to the magical land of Oz, with Robert Oetomo's marimba transcription of Over the Rainbow, with Renick's exquisite phrasing and shading taking us over the moon.

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Conductor Michal Nesterowicz had the orchestra to himself for two Czech masterpieces.
The rustic picture-postcard of Smetana's Vltava sprang to life, with a polka that almost had one reaching for dancing shoes and a breathtaking, almost minimalist middle section.

After interval, the Dvorak symphony that gave the concert its name found Nesterowicz fully fired; its first movement moved smoothly from elegy to dance, and its famous Largo was idyllic perfection.

What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Thursday
Reviewer: William Dart