7 April 2015

A Finnish sesquicentennial

A Canberra Symphony Orchestra concert is always such a pleasure. It’s our local orchestra, humble as it is, but like family with faces to recognise and visiting cousins who are new. Nicholas Milton was conducting, welcoming the audience in the informal way that orchestras now do, despite the black bowties. There’s good support from the Canberra community, too, with the CSO series being almost sold out on subscriptions, and often also support from foreign legations based in Canberra. Not that it’s highly funded by Federal sources (it’s very poorly funded compared to other major city orchestras) and it must be suffering from a lesser informal support after changes at the ANU School of Music. Nonetheless, the concerts are capable and well received.

This one had Finnish Embassy support and a Sibelius 150th anniversary theme. The major work was Sibelius 5th Symphony in Eb major. Nice key. The Fifth is life affirming and very different from preceding symphonies. It’s written through the years of WW1 so life-affirming seems an unexpected outcome but Sibelius was individual and methodical. I was interested to read of variations on rhythmic patterns rather than a melodic theme and the “swinging horn theme” and the six “adamant” final chords. Before the interval were Schubert Rosamunde overture which was actually performed for the Magic Harp, which remains classical despite occasional “Italian style” and Dvorak Cello concerto in B minor which was performed by New Zealand cellist Edward King. A single cello can be lost in this space and especially when seeking delicacy against a backdrop of fifty other players, but I enjoyed the Bohemian pentatonics and aaB phrases and an addition that pays sad tribute to his lost sister.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra performed Sibelius, Dvorak and Schubert under Nicholas Milton (conductor) and with soloist Edward King (cello).

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