Review of October 2019 Concert


The twelve minute long composition of Anthony Ritchie The Hanging Bulb was commissioned by the Dunedin Sinfonia while he was Mozart Fellow at Otago University.  It is melancholic in mood with a slow beginning, followed by a jerky fast movement. This is punctuated by percussion effects with the xylophone and bass drum symbolising cruelty.  The sound level seldom gets above piano but it plumbs the depths of despair and is in that way very moving.  The composer took a bow at the end of the performance, together with conductor Brent Stewart who conducted with great delicacy. It was thoughtful programming to include this New Zealand composition which audiences would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience.

What a joy it was to hear Simone Roggen return once again to share her virtuoso gifts in the Bruch Scottish Fantasy.  This work is based on Scottish folk tunes, and at thirty minutes in length is in every respect a violin concerto in all but name.  It was first performed in September 1880 by the Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate for whom it was written. The work introduces several well-known Scottish folk tunes and develops them cleverly to form a very satisfying whole.  Roggen’s playing of this work was sensitive and plumbed the depths of Bruch’s composition to perfection.  Stewart conducted with infectious enthusiasm. Both were given a rousing reception by the audience at the conclusion.

Following the Interval, Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony was presented with some very colourful orchestration.   The first movement begins slowly with woodwind introducing the themes. The mood is introspective and at times enigmatic, and the orchestration is a brilliantly coloured musical picture which Tchaikovsky is unsurpassed at. The second movement features the French Horns in a five note phrased theme which is developed cleverly.   The third movement in waltz time features the bassoons and clarinets, flowing through the orchestral maze serenely.   One is conscious of the underlying depression of the composer, but he is able to cloak this in some wonderfully tuneful music while seemingly coming to terms with “Fate”. Brent Stewart conducted this work with great insight and extracted the maximum colour and mood of the music. The audience showed its appreciation enthusiastically.  

At the conclusion of the concert we were invited to partake of Coopers Creek wine with nibbles, to launch the 2020 Subscription Series brochure.