Review / Mannheim to the max

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Viola soloist Justin Julian.

FROM the opening bars of the first item in the Musica da Camera presentation, it was clear that this concert would have a dynamism that would be exciting, dramatic and very enjoyable.

Musical director Christian Renggli conducted a program of works by composers Johann Stamitz, his son Carl Stamitz, Franz Xaver Richter and Franz Ignaz Beck. They were associated with the Mannheim School in the latter half of the 18th century and played an important role in the development of the classical period’s genres and of the classical symphony form.

The concert commenced with two works by the Bohemian composer, Johann Stamitz, who is considered to be the father of the Mannheim School.

The first work played – the Sinfonia in G minor – required the orchestra to start at the top of its form. Conductor Christian Renggli ensured that the playing was crisp, accurate and colourful from the dramatic opening, through the nicely reflective second movement and on to the exciting finale.

The second work, the Sinfonia in E flat major, was also very well played.

Violist Justin Julian joined the orchestra along with additional brass and wind instruments for the Viola Concerto in D major by Carl Stamitz. Often set for auditions for viola players, this work is a great showcase for the instrument and the performer. Justin Julian played with great feeling and precision and the orchestral accompaniment for this melodic and emotional work was excellent.

The highlight of the second half of the concert was the Sinfonia (Overtura) No. 1 by Franz Ignaz Beck. A highly atmospheric and busy work, it was played with obvious enthusiasm by the orchestra, producing an exciting and satisfying sound that was a delight to listen to.

Christian Renggli produced an excellent concert with the orchestra, giving the audience a keener appreciation of the works and composers of the influential Mannheim School.


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