Jessica Cottis is our local orchestra's chief conductor and musical director but she didn't make this concert. She was isolating for Covid. So our sit-in was Fabian Russell and he complemented the CSO and did a wonderful job up front despite only learning of some of the music in recent days. And his complements were deserved in my book. The CSO was big, ~65 players, and they filled Llewellyn and played well, neat intonation, great dynamics, convincing renditions. Maybe the best I've heard form them. And it was no slouch program. Wagner Tristan and Isolde Prelude; Margaret Sutherland violin concerto, Bernard Hermann Vertigo suite (very convincing and obviously different as so filmic) and Mendelssohn symphony no.5 Reformation. Having said I liked the playing and enjoyed the concert, I did have favourites. Wagner, yeah, and the violin concerto, if mainly for the playing. Courtney Cleary played the solo and did it with confidence and commitment; nice. But otherwise, it sounded marchy to me, perhaps apt given her experience of wartimes; the concerto is from 1960. Then the second half, and Vertigo, as in the film. Just great and convincing. I enjoyed this one for its drama and tension. Then Mendelssohn. Not a great fave. It was written early with all melody and little vertical, harmonic complexity (except maybe later in the third of four movements). But I'm a bassist and I couldn't be anything but impressed with this quick phrasings demanded of the five bottom enders, I think in unison with the cellos. Exhilarating, if mostly scalar. But I enjoyed that and the basses did it was admirable clarity and no hesitation. I could only leave with chuckle. Nice outing, this one.
Canberra Symphony Orchestra played Wagner, Sutherland, Hermann and Mendelssohn under replacement Fabian Russell (conductor) and with soloist Courtney Cleary (violin) and five basses.