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