Review of August 2018 Concert

WINING COMBINATION OF BARTOK AND BEETHOVEN

The opening work of St Matthews Chamber Orchestra concert on Sunday 9th August was, “On hearing the shining cuckoo”, by Auckland composer, Anthony Young, a contemporary work in six movements. We are all familiar with the shining cuckoo’s calls heralding Spring :– coo-ee, coo-ee followed by tsss-eew, tsss-eew.  This distinctive call was mimicked from this bird that lays its eggs in a grey warbler’s nest and leaves the grey warbler to hatch and raise the cuckoo chicks.  Young’s work  was inspired by Frederick Delius’ work “On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring.” And he uses a similar musical structure to paint his melodic structure.  The orchestra is to be commended for commissioning and performing new works like this for the audience first hearing.

Bartok’s 3rd Piano Concerto gave the solo pianist the opportunity to perform on the brand new Shuguru-Kawai  grand piano that has just been purchased by  St Matthews Church.   It was a brilliant performance by David Guerin, of a very showy piano work.  Bartok composed this concerto  especially for his concert pianist wife, Ditta.  It has many demands, and Guerin’s performance highlighted the contrasts and sheer brilliance of the music, which was well supported by the colourful orchestration.   In three contrasting movements, the final Allegro Vivace was very demanding of both the soloist and orchestra, but was performed with great panache and rewarded with a rousing reception from an appreciative audience.

Beethoven’s 8th Symphony is not as well known or as widely performed as some of his other Symphonies.  The first movement , Allegro Vivace con brio is bright tuneful and full of hope and Michael Joel drew forth a spirited performance of this movement.  The second and third movements are light-hearted and give plenty of scope for the woodwind section to shine. The work of principal clarinet, Janine Stenbo is worthy of special mention, her playing being exceptionally clear and standing out as the composer intended.  The final movement was spirited and featured contrasting dynamics that the conductor drew forth to perfection.   This work was very well received and enthusiastically applauded.

Lois Westwood’s well-researched program notes added to the enjoyment of the concert.

The next concert is on Sunday 16th September will feature the Hamilton Civic Choir under conductor, Tim Carpenter, performing  Bach’s St John Passion.

Robert  O’Hara