Settling the Score - seven of the top 10 classical favourites, as ' />

A fairly full town hall was primed and ready for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Settling the Score - seven of the top 10 classical favourites, as rated by listeners to Radio New Zealand Concert.

Last year's MC, the voluble John Campbell, was replaced by the drier Jim Mora, greeting the orchestra as "the mighty musical engine which will generate all the excitement tonight".

Which it did. Holst's Jupiter set off with the expected jollity, even if some must have wondered why a different movement from The Planets could not have been chosen this year.

Surprises were to follow. Not only did a New Zealand composition make the selection, but it was substantial - Gillian Whitehead's 1989 Resurgences.


Conductor Tecwyn Evans and his players really took to this simmering, shimmering evocation of geothermal goings-on.

We moved from geysers and mudpools to rural Bohemia for the first movement of Dvorak's Cello Concerto, dispensed with admirable poetry and fire by the APO's exceptional principal cello, Eliah Sakakushev-von Bismark.

After interval, the last movement of Bruch's G minor Violin Concerto did not quite gel for soloist Natalia Lomeiko. Perhaps this gypsyish finale needs the whole work to give it context.

Vaughan Williams' famous lark has ascended more impressively than it did this time around. Lomeiko, playing from a score, needed more relaxed and pliant phrasing to create a convincing flight of passage for The Lark Ascending.

The concert ended with a welcome celebration of the font of all music, the human voice, as Patricia Wright enchanted us with Dvorak's Song to the Moon and the last of Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs.

The soprano sang Hesse's autumnal text with a rare understanding, while its luxuriant setting never lacked Straussian sheen. Orchestra and conductor immersed themselves in the sumptuous tapestry; we, along with RNZ Concert listeners throughout the country, were fortunate to be their audience.

What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Thursday