A sumptuous feast of Prokofiev and Mahler

cellos and violins

When Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey enthusiastically tripped onto the stage followed closely by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s enigmatic chief conductor Sir Andrew Davis I suspected something pretty special was about to happen. I wasn’t let down.

Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante is infrequently played and known to be quite complicated. It certainly demands a number of complicated emotions and has the capacity to draw the cello out from beyond its usual rich deep moanings. Wispelwey indeed pulled something else from it; the piece and the cello came alive under his fingers and bow, it roared and screamed and conversed with the rest of the orchestra in sparkled animated splendour.

H61On a riser at the front of stage to allow for better projection, the cellist’s facial expressions were also on show. It was like having a glimpse at the artist’s inner world. Notes and phrases elicited expressions as if the music were escaping through him in a sort of pleasurable torture.

The ending of Sinfonia Concertante with its fast-tempoed final flourish was astonishing and abrupt. The audience erupted, Wispelwey and Davis leapt towards each other, their delight at the performance apparent by their flushed grinning faces and repeated shaking of hands. It’s always fantastic and infectious to see musicians enjoying themselves as much as those of us on the other end of it.

Read the rest of the review at Artshub


Britten’s War Requiem


In an evening united by poets and music, the MSO reminded us how art can serve as a warning against war.

‘My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity…All a poet can do today is warn.’ Wilfred Owen’s words were written by composer Benjamin Britten on the front page of the score of War Requiem. In these days of hero worship and glorification, the pity—the realities in the stories of war are often forgotten but they underlined the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s commemorative program of the Great War.

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ANZAC Tribute: Beethoven’s Ninth

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Hamer Hall, Melbourne, Friday 24 April, 2015


From The Last Post ringing through a silent throng of people to a hundred-strong choir ringing out joy to an emotional audience, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s ANZAC Tribute was poignant and fitting. Their focus on unity was refreshing. The MSO Chorus was the highlight, with Schiller’s Ode to Joy in the final movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 a triumphant finish and showing us that music is, after all, the universal language.

Read more at artshub.com.au

Ears Wide Open Concert One: Beethoven – incidental music to Egmont

Richard Gill and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Tuesday 3 March, 2015

It is no surprise that the Ears Wide Open series have become a popular annual event for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. With Richard Gill at the helm, the first in a triplet of concerts, Beethoven — incidental music to Egmont provided an insightful and passionate glimpse into a gifted composers work and the intricacies of a live orchestra.

Read more at artshub.com.au

A Musical Valentine

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Saturday 14 February 2015


In the height of Melbourne’s summer festival season thousands converged on the lush outdoor amphitheatre that is the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Young and old came with their finest picnic wares, boutique cider and bottles of wine for the first of three Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concerts ‘A Musical Valentine’.

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