What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart
The second instalment of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Beethoven celebrations saw the light and lyrical Fourth Symphony pitted against the Titanic power of the Fifth.
Searching out the full dramatic potential of the Fourth's Adagio, Giordano Bellincampi ensured that its stealthy tread eventually hurtled us into an Allegro bustling with bonhomie.
The sprightly woodwind dialogues of the second subject were a special delight, as was the maestro's chartering of one of Beethoven's most conversational development sections.
A lithe and well-sprung Adagio set off the violins' cantabile melody to advantage, the slightly ominous dotted rhythms around it keeping us on our guard.
After a scherzo in which the musicians clearly enjoyed Beethoven's toying with our expectations, a breathless finale explored the potential of perpetual motion, symphonic style.
During interval, a concertgoer asked me whether Beethoven's Fifth ever became something of a Groundhog Day experience for the seasoned music critic.
Remarkably, it never is. One returns to this score and is always re-charged by its energy and sheer chutzpah. Little wonder that Schumann predicted that it would be played for as long as music and the world existed.
Tonight, Bellincampi seemed to fire the musicians as if it were both their first and last performance of the piece.
The maestro's arms were taut and tense as he pummelled out Beethoven's famous four notes for the first of many, many times. Horns ushered in a second theme with an angry roar.
The Andante con moto was, more than ever, a breathtakingly unpredictable adventure, in which the guileless beauty of its opening theme soon had to contend with heartier outbursts. The grunt of double bass and the implacable timpani shared their space with moments of Schubertian iridescence.
The absolute fury of the scherzo's fugato hinted at darker territories ahead. However, when a trio of trombones announced the finale, it was as if we had soared through banks of clouds to the bluest of blue skies.