Review of Eight Seasons Concert July 2018

Brilliantly Virtuosic – Andrew Beer

St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra has a great reputation for attracting wonderful soloists but it was a really stellar cast of soloist and accompanying continuo players who performed at their most recent Eight Seasons concert.  The concert was much anticipated – probably the first which saw both Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Piazolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires performed together in New Zealand.

Andrew Beer, the Concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, was brilliantly virtuosic in both the Vivaldi – with all its seasonal references – cracking ice, dogs barking, drunken revellery, spring warmth and the languor of an Italian summer afternoon, and in Piazolla’s Argentinian seasons – cicadas, tangos and reflections on Vivaldi’s music.  His expressive and passionate playing seemed to switch effortlessly between eighteenth century Italy and twentieth century South America.

What a master-stroke it was to alternate the two compositions season by season.

Ashley Brown, playing the demanding cello obligatos, and Peter Watts on harpsichord added greatly to the performance and were most accomplished collaborators, and Michael Joel demonstrated his ability to make music the greatest fun while maintaining great professionalism in his conducting.  The orchestra, made up of a very select band of strings led by Tessa Petersen, seemed as enthusiastic and energetic as the team of soloists.  Crisp, punctuated string lines and luscious south American rhythms had the audience entranced.  A very appreciative audience accorded the players a standing ovation – well deserved by all.