What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart
Perhaps it was inevitable that Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's showcase of minor masters last week would be followed by an evening of bona fide masterpieces in Brahms' Violin Concerto and Schubert's great C major Symphony.
Giordano Bellincampi meticulously laid out Brahms' rich array of themes, priming us for the soloist's dramatic entry. Benjamin Morrison had dispensed lashings of Viennese cream with Korngold a fortnight ago, and immediately proved even more impressive in what, for some, is the greatest of all violin concertos.
He unerringly navigated what might have been a technical obstacle course, culminating in a cadenza that, to my ears, took the classic Joachim cadenza as a starting point for even more virtuosic revelations.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Yet, within this vast movement, slivers of exquisite tenderness hinted at a heart-melting Adagio to come, a movement graced by the elegantly poised dialogues of soloist and orchestral colleagues.
In the sheer gusto of Brahms' Hungarian-styled finale, one might have imagined Morrison and Bellincampi daring one another to further musical feats, culminating in a spectacular tie.
After such simpatico ensemble work the encore was no surprise Morrison shared it with three string players, delivering what sounded like a rather jolly Celtic reel in the form of Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen's Shine you no more.
After interval, the incisive Bellincampi ensured the "heavenly length" of Schubert's final symphony, famously praised by Schumann, did not outstay its welcome.
Completed just months before the composer's untimely death, this work is a bridge between Beethoven and Mahler in its massive time scale and bold colours. Artless simplicity sits alongside the bold and pungent in a piece dismissed by one contemporary critic as a "skirmish of instruments".
Yet this very skirmish, from Schubert's carefully measured opening pages through jaunty marches and a rushing scherzo to the primal blast of its finale, is what this score is all about. Tonight the APO caught it beautifully.