Review / Orchestra’s ‘booming’ start slips towards the end

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Beginning with Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” Overture, the Maruki Community Orchestra started with a tremendous boom.

Music / “Viola in Springtime”, Maruki Community Orchestra, Albert Hall, Yarralumla, September 15. Reviewed by ROB KENNDY.

COMMUNITY orchestras can be a good place to try out new music. This concert had a beauty of a piece to engage and entertain its audience.

Beginning with Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” Overture, the Maruki Community Orchestra started with a tremendous boom. The volume they achieved was astounding, especially from the piccoloist. This popular overture bounces along with many fortissimo sections. Rossini was not known as Signore Crescendo for no reason.

The oboists played with delightful clarity and the piccoloist, as mentioned, cut through everyone. Maruki sounded good and strong throughout, and under John Gould conducting in his bright red shirt they did justice to this lively work.

Onto a World Premiere. The “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra” Hunter home from the Hill, written and conducted by Melvyn Cann. John Gould swapped his baton for the viola as the soloist.

This concerto was written as a tribute to John Gould, the Maruki Community Orchestra and to various musical influences from Cann’s youth. Gould and Cann have been musical buddies for 60 years; they played together in the Australian Youth Orchestra.

The viola and orchestra began together from the very first note. Unfortunately, not long in Gould’s viola developed a problem, and they had to stop and start over again.

This contemporary-sounding piece may have been quite a challenge for Maruki, but they handled most of it quite well. It was full of strong orchestral colours, especially from the percussion section. The violist had a lot to do and its part was particularly well written and played by Gould.

This ever-changing concerto went through moments of dissonance and dynamic flourishes. The snare drum played a central part in the first movement and the Tam Tam player was well heard and used.

The piece used the full range of orchestral colours well. While melodies were few, the tonal character fitted the mood and style, which was dark and mysterious, yet full of colour. It was finely orchestrated and it showed a great understanding of the characteristics of all instrumental families.

The piece displayed great skill and it gelled as a whole concerto. Gould on viola played with a good understanding of the work. Other than being a bit too long, it was refreshing to hear Maruki tackle something so new and challenging.

After the interval, the audience heard “Harold in Italy” symphony with viola solo, by Hector Berlioz. The solo viola was again played by Gould, but this time he sat in the orchestra.

The brooding opening felt darker than it was written due to some intonation problems in the orchestra, especially from the players in the horn section. This opening movement was ripe with a strong melody, almost song-like, and it sounded like it was telling a story.

Over the four movements, the orchestra seemed to slip a bit. The first two pieces sounded better. While a concert like this is a lot of work, and learning a contemporary piece is a massive undertaking, especially for a community orchestra, they brought all the music together and had some fine moments.

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  1. I was sent a link to this review of this September 16th music review of the Maruki Community Orchestra concert. As a professional international concert musician of 40 years standing, I was a bit surprised at the unnecessary blow dealt to the concert review by your newspaper with the headline “Orchestra’s ‘booming’ start slips towards the end”.
    At a professional level, if we don’t present a well polished concert, then it’s fair game to be reviewed fairly starkly, because we are advertising a certain expectation as professionals, but in this instance a community orchestra, which by its nature is prioritising community over any excellence even remotely approaching professional, I think for all the hard work they would put into a concert (I have directed a few in my time), if the only headline the paper can come up with deals such a cruel blow in the single line of the headline, when so many other options could have been considered for choice of words, degree of encouragement, etc, then I think it mean-spirited and misaligned to the way of a community orchestra, in the same way a children’s athletics team would not be assessed to the same degree of criticism for their performance at a match as an adult team would.
    I feel the orchestra worthy of review, but a more gentle headline could have been more appropriate.

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