What a difference a year makes

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Canberra Sinfonia performs at its anniversary concert. Photo: Peter Hislop

Music / Haydn & Wagner, Canberra Sinfonia Anniversary Celebration, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, July 27. Reviewed by LEN POWER. 

ON July 21 last year, Canberra Sinfonia gave its inaugural concert – a program of Mozart and Schubert, conducted by Leonard Weiss.  

Their patron, singer Louise Page, stated in the program for that concert that “one of the hardest times in a young musician’s life is bridging the gap between student training and employment with an established musical body”.  Canberra Sinfonia was created to help bridge that gap.

Now, a year and several memorable performances later, it celebrated its first birthday with a concert of music by Haydn and Wagner, again conducted by Weiss.

The program commenced with “Siegfried Idyll” by Richard Wagner. Composed as a birthday present to his second wife, Cosima, after the birth of their son, Siegfried, in 1869, the piece received its premiere in 1870 at the Wagners’ villa in Switzerland, with Cosima awaking to its opening melody.  Wagner’s opera, “Siegfried”, which premiered in 1876, incorporates music from the “Idyll”.

Leonard Weiss
Leonard Weiss conducts Canberra Sinfonia at its anniversary concert. Photo: Peter Hislop

The orchestra gave a fine performance of this atmospheric work. There was a great confidence and clarity in the playing, bringing out the full colour in the music.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 92 in G major made up the second half. It was composed in Paris in 1789 and was later given the nickname of the “Oxford” symphony in the mistaken belief that Haydn had played it in 1791 in Oxford when he received an honorary doctorate. In fact, he played a minuet which is heard in Haydn’s 1772 symphony no. 47.

The orchestra gave an especially strong performance of the second half of the first movement. There was a real sense of excitement in the playing, edgy and crisp and very satisfying.

The melodies in the adagio second movement were played with warmth and sensitivity. The orchestra played the last two movements with great skill and accuracy, handling Haydn’s witty timing elements very well.

Canberra Sinfonia demonstrated with this birthday concert that it is a major force in the Canberra musical scene. These young musicians have gone from strength to strength in the past year, demonstrating a high level of skill and maturity in their playing.

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