Review / Inventive musical journey through space and time

Share Canberra's trusted news:

Julian Smiles and Dimity Hall.
IT’S a pity there weren’t more people to enjoy this fine concert by the National Capital Orchestra. Conductor, Leonard Weiss, took his audience on quite a journey through space and time in an inventive and entertaining program of music not often heard.

The first stop was the Pleiades star cluster, or Seven Sisters, located in the Taurus constellation, a mere 444 light years from Earth. A photo of the striking colours and form inspired Australian-American composer, Natalie Williams, to write “Chambers of South”, the title coming from Job 9:9. The orchestra rose confidently to the challenge of depicting the colours and form with shimmering strings interplaying with assertive brass and colourful woodwinds, all traversing the brightness of the seven stars and the darkness in between, with the celeste imagining the mysterious sounds of space along the way. It was easy to create the picture in the mind’s eye.

Williams herself must have been able to paint that picture, for she clearly was very pleased with the orchestra’s performance.

Perhaps the Seven Sisters’ role was to introduce us to “Belkis, Queen of Sheba”, for that was the NCO’s next destination, with the ballet music of Respighi, whose compositional style reflected his interest in music of the 16th-18th centuries. This work, in four movements, carries some constantly changing rhythms and time signatures, including some quite unusual ones. Weiss kept a close eye on proceedings, giving the orchestra very clear directions. The musicians responded beautifully.

The final work was Brahms’ Double Concerto in A-minor Opus 102 and featured an enlarged orchestra to accompany cellist, Julian Smiles, and violinist, Dimity Hall. For Brahms, this composition was something of a peace offering to his estranged friend, the violinist, Joseph Joachim. Joachim had sought a divorce from his wife, accusing her of infidelity, and Brahms had written a letter of support for her. The divorce was refused.

But we didn’t have to worry about that. We could just enjoy Brahms’ lovely music. At times there was a little imbalance in some sections of the orchestra, but overall, the ensemble provided expert backing for the two virtuoso soloists. The interplay between them was seamless, the music passing from one to the other and back where their instruments overlap in pitch. The long runs from the top of the violin to the bottom of the cello created quite a stereo, surround-sound effect. It was stunning to hear.

During the first half, Weiss told the audience about the orchestra’s fortunes in securing funding for more concerts in Llewellyn Hall and gave a run-down on their 2018 season. If this concert was any indication, it will be worth getting along to some of their presentations next year.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleReview / Not perfect, but plenty of laughs
Next articleSocials / At the Karinya House 20th anniversary dinner, Phillip

Leave a Reply