Giordano Bellincampi launched the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Beethoven 7 concert with a welcome taste of Danish, reflecting his own associations with that country.
Back in 2006, Danish composer Poul Ruders lavished craft and wit on a commission for the Alabama Power Company titled Light Overture. For the APO, this piece was a suitably high-voltage prelude, a virtuoso outing that gave the musicians a bracing workout.
Ruders is a master of the mercurial, shifting from the bustle of fugal jousting to moments in which he seems to be gently joshing Cinemascope Western stylings. Ruders was followed by a substantial Danish main course - Carl Nielsen's Violin Concerto, with soloist Kolja Blacher giving one of the standout performances of this season.
Nielsen's harmonic writing can be a minefield for intonation but Blacher was unflinchingly on the note. A Largo, with the subtlest of orchestral tinting, led into a rousing Allegro cavalleresco of chivalric power, with full-booted orchestra and fierce fiddling, so infectious it drew spontaneous applause.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
A Poco adagio introduced cooler emotions, Blacher weaving glorious melody around sculpted woodwind, and the closing rondo was a wry waltz.
Of all Beethoven's symphonies, the Seventh is the most relentless in its momentum. Bellincampi is just the maestro to keep its symphonic fire ignited, building up the suspense of its opening Poco sostenuto until the irrepressible Vivace bursts forth.
The obsessive Allegretto sounded particularly fresh thanks to meticulous balancing and nuancing and, after a gleefully joyous scherzo, the finale might well have had voltmeters bouncing into the red.
What: Beethoven 7, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Reviewed by: William Dart