The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra concert might have been a further instalment of September's German Masters, featuring the same trusted triumvirate of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann.

A bumper audience was welcomed by Leonore Overture No.3 with Giordano Bellincampi showing his customary flair from the start, as Beethoven's opening fortissimo subsided gracefully into a piano whisper.

It was a performance that both finessed the composer's Adagio subtleties and enjoyed his Allegro jubilation.

Isabelle van Keulen was a forceful soloist in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, too much so perhaps when the cadenza came along.


The central Andante charmed with uncluttered lyricism. Elsewhere unexpected departures from the printed score included bizarre percussive pizzicato chords in an otherwise well-mannered finale.

Van Keulen relaxed at encore time. If her arrangement of the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations was a little rubato-laden, there was compensation in the earthy pungency of dissonant cadences.

Schumann's Second Symphony was summarily dismissed by one critic in 1952 as a pathetic failure from the pen of a mentally challenged composer.

In these times, we know better. Its bold idiosyncrasies were positively embraced on stage, especially in the unpredictable rush of its scherzo.

Inevitably, the high point was a lingering slow movement, the bloom of its shapely melody passed on from eloquent violins to a succession of gorgeous woodwind solos.

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