Review of May 2018 Concert

UNIVERSITY  STUDENTS  DELIGHT  AUDIENCE

On a fine Sunday afternoon a near capacity audience gathered at St Matthews in the City for the second concert in the 2018 program.    It was a markedly different  program from their usual offering in that it featured  three instumental  soloists and seven young singers from the Auckland University School of Music.  The music presented ranged from Bach to Beardsworth (a talented young New Zealand composer).

The opening item was a 9 minute  long composition titled  ”Prelude in D minor” by the  young New Zealand composer, Matthew Beardsworth.  To quote the composer himself, “I wrote Prelude to challenge myself to write in a style other than what I usually compose in.  Instead of writing in a rigid and structured form, I started with the motif and allowed the piece to organically develop from there in seamless flow.”  Opening with the viola and cello sections, the music swept from one section of the orchestra to another in flowing style.  There was no dissonance, and meagre melodic line, but there was plenty of harmony and this demonstrated the composer’s skilful orchestration.    The composer was welcomed to the podium by the conductor to acknowledge the applause from an appreciative audience.

Schubert’s  Symphony no 5  was next, and this provided  37 minutes of graceful melody with clever development and beautiful harmony.  Conductor José Aparicio drew a superb performance of this popular work from the orchestra.  His conducting style was economic in gesture, but he gave positive direction where he wanted to give extra emphasis to the music.  This symphony is so well known and widely popular but this performance was an excellent reading and was very well received.

Following the interval two young flautists, Zoe Stenhouse-Burgess and Yunesang Yune were joined by violinist Danny Kim to present with a reduced orchestra a performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto number 4 in G Major. In three movements – Allegro, Andante, Presto – the conductor kept the orchestra volume at an acceptably low level so that the virtuosity of the three soloists could be heard to perfection.  They  performed brilliantly in the first movement, and then in the slower second movement  the minuet  tempo allowed them to accentuate the echo efffects  beautifully.   All three solosists were able to demonstrate their virtuosic skills in the final movement, and their performance was much appreciated.

We were then treated to a succession of opera arias by seven very talented young singers, most of whom are aiming to carve out a career as professional singers.  First up was Ella Ewen who gave a very sensitive performance of Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga” from the opera “Rinaldo”.   Tenor Nathan Hauraki gave us a fine performance of Monostatos’ aria from The Magic Flute.  His ringing tenor voice gave urgency to the Moor’s plea in his unrequited love for Pamina. In the next item, Ella Ewen was joined by Carla Camilleri in the “Letter” duet “Sull’aria” from The Marriage of Figaro.  Countess Almaviva is dictating a letter to her maid in which they plan to trap the Count  and expose his infidelity.    The two singers combined well and their performance was much appreciated.   The serenade, “Dei Vieni alla Finestra” from Don Giovanni was given a rousing performance by baritone, Alex Matangi.    The Pamina/Papageno duet from The Magic Flute was given a very fine reading by baritone Arthur Adams-Close and soprano Ella Ewen.   In the next item, from Donizetti’s opera “Daughter of the Regiment”, soprano Clare Hood dressed in a flame red frock, gave a saucy performance of the regimental song and demonstrated her command of the coloratura register.      In the nexy item,  Leila Alexander in a flared white frock gave a splendid performance of  “Meine Lippen” from Franz Lehar’s opera Giuditta, and also demonstrated her dancing ability.    In a flamboyant finale, all singers came on stage together with champagne bottles and glasses and gave a rousing performance of the Champagne Chorus from the Johann Strauss opera, Die Fledermaus.    They were given a noisy farewell from a warmly appreciative audience.

The usual well researched notes by Lois Westwood were of great assistance to the audience in their appreciation of the program.

Robert O’Hara.