Review of November 2018 Concert

SMCO END THE YEAR IN FINE FORM

The first item in St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra’s final concert for 2018 was Douglas Lilburn’s Drysdale overture. This was written in 1937 when Lilburn was studying at the Royal College of Music, London under Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is dedicated to his father and is evocative of the family farm and estate where Lilburn was born. The music is tuneful and it is easy to imagine the rolling hills and sweeping rural countryside that is depicted in the music. Lilburn himself likened his feelings when composing the work to Mark Twain’s image of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer drifting down the Mississippi river looking up at the stars and wondering “whether they just happened”.

The Oboe concerto of Vaughan Williams was commissioned by the BBC in 1944 to raise the spirits of war-weary Britons. The composer worked with the brilliant oboist Leon Goosens on the work and it was premiered on 30th September by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The work presents considerable challenges for the soloist and Bede Hanley surmounted these with consummate ease. His dexterity and phrasing were impeccable and the warmth of his tone sang throughout the whole performance. This was very well applauded by a capacity audience.

During his life Brahms was not only a composer but a brilliant concert pianist and his third symphony was written during the height of his fame. As a young man he met and became friends with Robert and Clara Schumann, who encouraged him in his career. When Robert Schumann died, Brahms courted Clara, the love of his life, but she remained faithful to her late husband. Brahms’ 3rd Symphony was written in 1883 and was premiered by the Meiningen Court Orchestra under Hans von Bulow who was a great admirer of Brahms. The work has very strong contrasts, changes of mood and plays on the emotions of listeners throughout. The first movement is ushered in by the Wind section, and the second movement features the clarinet. The third movement is lyrical and quite wistful in mood, while the final movement is contrastingly bright and uplifting in style. The three chord signature motto introduced earlier reappears as the final movement progresses to its conclusion. The conductor Tianyi Lu was such a diminutive figure on the podium but her conducting gestures directing the orchestra were at all times positive and strong, and her performance together with the orchestra was roundly applauded.

To introduce the 2019 Orchestra Subcription Series the audience were invited to partake of Coopers Creek wine, cheese and crackers at the conclusion of the concert. This was much appreciated by all.

The informative notes prepared as usual by Lois Westwood helped audience members to appreciate the program.

Robert O’Hara