Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra seems happy that Music Director Giordano Bellincampi is back in town, and one sensed it in the first of two concerts, playing on both sides of the harbour.
Even with the Bruce Mason Centre's recalcitrant acoustics, Der Freischutz overture evoked the magic and mysteries of Weber's opera with uber-dramatic dynamics and Signe Somer's exquisite clarinet.
Later, Brahms' Third Symphony gave Bellincampi ample scope for those shapely, buoyant phrases that he seems to draw from the air itself. The passionato roar that sets the symphony off was slightly constricted in sound on Wednesday, but guaranteed to bloom appropriately in the town hall tomorrow.
In a score with no real slow movement, crisp woodwind ensemble lent elegance to its Andante whilst the lyrical sweep of cellos set a template for the following Poco Allegretto.
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Suyeon Kang, winner of last year's Michael Hill International Violin Competition, seemed nervous at first in the great Allegro ma non troppo of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, until an intense trill fired confidence.
Using Daniel Garlitsky's cadenza, based on one that Beethoven wrote for a piano transcription of the concerto, Kang gave us five minutes of virtuoso bedazzlement, incorporating a sprightly march, with timpani obbligato. She was at her loveliest in the Larghetto, pursuing decorative dialogues with other soloists around her, in collegial perfection.
A concert well worth experiencing in the town hall tonight.
What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Bruce Mason Centre