The title of Thursday's concert, Mozart & Dvorak, may not have been so inspiring but, nevertheless, there was a bumper turnout for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's second post-lockdown performance.
Mozart and Dvorak provided the concerto and symphony of the evening, while the opening 10 minutes — an ingenious grafting of Haydn and Charles Ives — was a splendid example of the APO's imaginative programming.
The overture to Haydn's The Creation slipped seamlessly into Ives' The Unanswered Question, an 18th-century representation of primordial chaos resolving into the occasionally ruffled serenity of the early 20th century.
It was breathtaking, with conductor Hamish McKeich skilfully pitting the measured drama of one against the mysterious otherworldliness of the other.
Taking the solo spotlight, the orchestra's principal bassoonist Ingrid Hagan made a persuasive case for Mozart's only concerto for her instrument.
Hagan impressed with sure-fingered virtuosity and a consummate sense of line, complemented by the elegant and sometimes boisterous playing that McKeich drew from the orchestra around her.
Cadenzas, written by the American Bernard Garfield, were generous and brilliant, a particularly zesty one in the finale hinting that, come encore time, we might be in for something more adventurous than a Telemann fantasia.
And we were. Delivering Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah against the guitar-like pizzicato of Ashley Brown's cello, Hagan held the audience in thrall.
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Dvorak must be the perfect composer to let some sunshine into the concert hall and it flooded in, from the first breezy bars of his Sixth Symphony.
McKeich has an ear for pace and momentum, making this Allegro non tanto compulsively invigorating. One sensed the musicians immensely enjoying the snap and thrust of its development section.
Yet, for all the exhilaration that permeates this score, perhaps the soul of its composer lies in its more contemplative Adagio, and here, with cool woodwind and resonant strings, McKeich and the orchestra did him proud.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall