Not your usual ACO concert, but enjoyable

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Timo-Veikko Valve, left, and Richard Tognetti. Photo: Nic Walker

Music / Australian Chamber Orchestra play Brahms & Dvorak. At Llewellyn Hall, November 9. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD

THIS was the final ACO concert in Canberra for the year and the usual compact string ensemble was enlarged to 50 musicians with addition of extra strings, woodwind, brass and percussion.

This allowed a full orchestral performance of Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor and the Dvorak Symphony No.8 in G major. For the Brahams ACO director Richard Tognetti and principal cellist Timo-Veikko Valve took the solo parts, while Tognetti took up the conductor’s baton for the Dvorak.

The concert opened with a short solo trumpet piece by Australian composer Andrew Ford, “Fanfare for Neverland”. This was played from the balcony by Visa Haarala, on loan from the Tapiola Sinfonietta in Finland and followed immediately by Gran Turisimo the Australian premiere of a work for eight violins by American composter Andrew Norman.

The eight violins all have quite separate parts which start and stop at changing intervals and there was much obvious counting of the rest bars by each performer to ensure their next cue. This is a work which grew in complexity as it progressed and it would be interesting to hear it again.

The Brahms double concerto brought an entirely different mood to the concert with Tognetti alternating between being a soloist and conducting.

What is always been remarkable about the ACO is the balance between the instruments and even with the orchestra almost trebled in size, that balance remains. It can be all to easy for one section or another to dominate, especially when brass and woodwind are added, but this was delightfully even through both the Brahms and Dvorak symphony after the interval.

This was certainly not your usual ACO concert, but nevertheless a most enjoyable evening of music. As Andrew Ford’s informative and witty program notes pointed out, both these orchestral works are full of good melodies and orchestral writing at its finest. Little more is needed.

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