Music / “Double Bill +”, Maruki Community Orchestra, conducted by John Gould. At Albert Hall, May 26. Reviewed by LEN POWER
“DOUBLE Bill +” was an ambitious program for any orchestra, but the local Maruki Community Orchestra showed that it relished a challenge and produced a creditable afternoon of fine music.
This is a community symphony orchestra devoted to all musicians in the Canberra region, regardless of age, experience and skill level, who have strong interests in playing classical musical instruments in an orchestra environment and who wish to develop their skills and express their musicality.
Conductor and musical director, John Gould, who began his career with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1958, led the orchestra through two symphonies by Beethoven and Dvořák, a prelude by Wagner and Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre”.
The concert commenced with the Prelude to Act 1 of Richard Wagner’s opera, “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”. Some instruments were not tuned as precisely as they should have been and the playing was a bit wobbly, but once they had warmed up, the orchestra gave a good account of this rousing work.
Next, the orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B flat major. It played the first and fourth movements especially well.
Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre” was the third item. Peter Ellis played the solo violin for this popular, atmospheric work. In keeping with the mood of the piece, he had skeleton transfers attached to his violin, a supermarket cheapie. Used just for this item, he explained to the audience that this violin had, surprisingly, just the right tone for the solo part of this particular work. He also looked suitably devilish by sporting a skeleton-patterned head scarf. Both he and the orchestra gave an appropriately edgy and pleasing performance of this item.
After interval, the orchestra played the Symphony No. 8 in G major by Antonín Dvořák. This work, full of beautiful Bohemian melodies, is always a delight to hear and the orchestra produced a fine sound. The colourful third movement was especially well-played.
Observing this orchestra playing as well as it did for the sheer joy of it, resulted in a memorable and entertaining concert.