Review / Sinfonia returns with a stirring, throbbing concert

Music / “Haydn, Handel & Mozart Favourite Arias”, Canberra Sinfonia, Conducted by  Leonard Weiss, soloist Louise Page. At Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, October 27. Reviewed by LEN POWER

Sinfonia parton and soprano Louise Page… an affecting emotional performance. Photo by Peter Hislop

AFTER their successful inaugural concert in July, Canberra Sinfonia presented a fine second concert. Conducted by Leonard Weiss, the young artists performed a program of Bartók and Haydn and, after interval, they were joined by their patron, soprano Louise Page, who sang arias by Handel and Mozart.

The “Romanian Folk Dances” by Béla Bartók gave the concert a stirring opening with throbbing, earthy rhythms and romantic melodies in six movements. It was tightly played by the orchestra, especially the spectacularly busy final movement.

The second item on the program was Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 63 (second version). The first version is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings, while the second version has the same scoring but with only one bassoon and no trumpets or timpani. The final two movements differ from the first version, particularly with the oboe and bassoon trio in the third movement.

The orchestra gave a fine performance of all four movements of this work. The energetic playing of the first movement contrasted with the nicely played, melodic second, or “Roxelane”, movement. The third movement was notable for the fine playing of the trio by Caitlin McAnulty and Timothy Elphick on the oboes and bassoonist Jordan London. The final movement was given a strong and colourful performance.

Leonard Weiss conducts the Canberra Sinfonia. Photo by Peter Hislop

From the 18th century musical drama, “Semele”, by George Frideric Handel, Louise Page sang two arias. “Where’er you walk” was hauntingly sung, evoking a promised garden paradise. Page gave the second aria, “O sleep, why dost though leave me?”, an affecting emotional performance.

The program finished with four of Mozart’s most beautiful arias for soprano. All four were expertly sung including a delicately moving “Porgi Amor” (Grant, love, some comfort) from ‘”The Marriage of Figaro” and a fine acting and singing performance of conflicted emotions for “In What Excesses, O Heavens” from “Don Giovanni”.

The accompaniment for the Handel and Mozart arias was sensitive and with a good balance between orchestra and singer.

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