CANBERRA Youth Orchestra’s final concert for the year featured two major works – Benjamin Britten’s “Violin Concerto” and “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Conducted by Leonard Weiss, the orchestra included several professional local musicians for this concert. Violin soloist Dale Barltrop was born in Brisbane and is now concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and first violinist of the Australian String Quartet.
The program commenced with Britten’s “Violin Concerto” with Barltrop as soloist. First premiered in 1940, Britten’s concerto is a brooding, emotive work that evokes the looming presence of World War II. It’s powerful and menacing, creating an uneasy atmosphere and requires strongly expressive and incisive playing.
Barltrop gave a superb performance. It was full of passion and great beauty, bringing out the many colours and moods of the work. The orchestra under Leonard Weiss excelled with their playing as well, creating a rich, clear sound that gave the work the edge it requires.
After interval, Barltrop joined the orchestra as concertmaster for the performance of “Scheherazade”. Considered Rimsky-Korsakov’s most popular work, it was composed in 1888 and was inspired by the “Arabian Nights” tales. It’s a rich, colourful symphonic suite that evokes a mystical oriental atmosphere as it presents several tales by the sultan’s wife, Scheherazade.
The orchestra gave a fine performance of this much-loved work. Barltrop played the melodic solo violin passages depicting Scheherazade with great warmth and feeling. The final movement was especially well played.
As Barltrop left the stage at the end of the concert, the orchestra made it very clear that they had enjoyed playing with him. The audience also showed their warm appreciation for an evening of well-played, fine music.