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Review by John van Buskirk

Verdi – Overture to La Forza del Destino

Its opening, a threatening blast of brass, set the tone of the overture and the ensemble – piccolo shrieking bloody murder to chill the blood … urgent strings pushing things forward with its signature ‘fate’ motif … a respite from all this tension, provided by a beautiful clarinet solo … soon a familiar theme floats in – the awakening love and longing of Leonora for Alvaro, which will be thwarted by Destiny! A red-blooded sprint to the finish, a traditional operatic accelerando primed the audience for a well-deserved enthusiastic response. Well done, orchestra!

Mozart – Violin Concerto in G Major, K. 216

Skyla’s performance was a treat – combining the delicious springtime of youth – hers and Mozart’s – with musical maturity and the assurance of a professional. A triumph! (1st mov’t especially)

Shaw – Southern Alps Overture

A majestic opening with spare 4th’s and 5th’s striding over the peaks like 20-league boots brought the heights and vistas of the Southern Alps we all know and love into focus. Some marching followed, presenting determination and sense of purpose. This morphed into a pleading blend of orchestral resources and arrived at a mood of resignation. An attempt was made to recapitulate the energetic opening but this failed, dissolving into an uneasy exhaustion … (we are here to fight for you … but could you protect us a bit from the climate?)

Brahms — Requiem ‘Den alles Fleisch … ‘

This composer was a very private and ‘buttoned down’ sort in his public persona. Although some brief romantic attachments are suspected, he remained single throughout his lonely life. We do know that he loved and honoured his mother. The tenderness and overwhelming love and sweetness heard in his Requiem written for her are from the heart. What a brilliant idea of David’s to include this in the DYO concert, a peak experience for all to serve as the apogee of the programme. How satisfying it was … the first section, so somber and lugubrious, the second bright and airy, the return to Bb minor in the third section reprise then the power of the fourth section – the redeemed of the world will come again, rejoicing! In Bb Major! (wipe away your tears and flats – haha) The gamut of organ on one end anchoring us to the earth and the blessed piccolo sailing aloft, taking us to the skies was overwhelming!

Berlioz –March to the Scaffold from Symphonie Fantastique

Moving from heaven to hell, we lived through death with the March to the Scaffold (avoid drugs? not everyone wakes up in time? not certain what message you take here … best to see this as a literary dairy entry?) [hopefully the DYO learned/experienced why Berlioz’s treatise on orchestration is still referred to] Two timpanists! Two sets of timpani! … what could be more dramatic? Another Berlioz innovation was in using small sections of the orchestral at a time (very demanding for the players), often antiphonally – which makes for some very tricky ensemble challenges. The blasts of brass were great – brass get the most fun romps … snare drama to pull it all together as the guillotine falls … argh. An alive and wonderful performance!

Tchaikovsky – Selections from Swan Lake

These two movements were so warm, serving as re-entry into the world we would prefer, comforting and embracing. The audience was gifted with the opportunity to relax into this lush sound world of Imperial Russia as the orchestra sang out in one voice – We Got This!!

John van Buskirk

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