Music / Ana de la Vega and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Snow Concert Hall, May 20. Reviewed by LEN POWER.
THERE was an excited buzz of anticipation as the audience arrived at the new Snow Concert Hall nestled in the Red Hill grounds of the Canberra Grammar School.
This sumptuous 936-seat hall was made possible by an extraordinary gift from CGS alumnus, Terry Snow.
“The New Wonder-Flautist” and international star Ana de la Vega, has returned to her birth country after 16 years on the world’s most renowned stages.
Artistic director of the new hall, de la Vega was the soloist together with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra for the first concert of the Snow Concert Hall International Series.
The program was a well-chosen mix of familiar and less familiar works. The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra opened with Mozart’s much-loved orchestral work, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (A Little Night Music). It was immediately clear that the hall has fine acoustics. The Mozart was extraordinarily clear and bright and the orchestra’s energetic playing of it had great depth and colour.
The orchestra continued with a contrasting work, Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings”. A highly recognisable piece heard often on the concert stage, it was played with great control and sensitivity. Often heard accompanying sombre films, it becomes a beautiful piece of uplifting music when heard unaccompanied by film images.
Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for String Orchestra” is a timeless masterpiece that captures the beauty and wonder of life itself. This introspective, nostalgic work was hauntingly played by the orchestra.
Flautist Ana de la Vega joined the orchestra for two works. The first was Vivaldi’s “La tempesta di mare” (The Storm at Sea), the flute concerto in F major.
Played in three movements, de la Vega showed right from the beginning that she is a performer who has earned her international reputation. Her playing was magical and she and the orchestra evoked all the drama and colour of a tempestuous sea voyage.
The “Flute Concerto in D Major” by Carl Stamitz was the second work played by de la Vega with the orchestra. Not as well known, this 18th century work was a delightfully expressive work, demanding great skill from the players. It was given an exciting and joyful performance by de la Vega and the orchestra.
For an encore we were treated to the well-known “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera, “Thaїs”. It was a sublime end to a great evening of music.
When de la Vega made her first entrance, she paused and said to the audience, indicating the new hall, “Isn’t this the best thing for Canberra?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!”
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