30 April 2023

How to live happily ever after

It's our local orchestra and we'd got a good deal but I was not so keen on the program.  So I thought and how wrong one can be.  The program was two commissioned modern-Australian pieces and a Scriabin piano concerto and Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade.  We'd heard Scheherazade several times, even by the Berlin Phil, and I'd listened to some of the Scriabin in the afternoon and I wasn't so taken.  Maybe it's the live effect but, in the end, I loved this all deeply (when I could ignore the immensely offensive plot).  Scheherazade was all the lyrical beauty that it is expected and the storyline, assisted by a rear projection, was clear and gave order to the whole.  Early on I wished for more dynamics, those pp passages that have you leaning in your seats, but then the ff passages worked and the dynamics became stronger and the lyricism leaped forward and Jessica Cottis' urgings fell into place and the main work was a huge pleasure.  But not the first for the night.  The Scriabin presented some busy and expansive piano and was a real pleasure, even if occasionally lost amongst the 55 players of the orchestra.  It's an easy slip up, that.  But nonetheless, a telling performance by orchestra and soloist.  The two commissioned pieces seemed to share some aspects, both ~8 mins, both with busy bows playing big crescendoes although one with more than the other.  Miriama Young's piece was called Kinds of blue.  I expected references to Miles, but rather it referred to various shade of blue in found Rothko paintings.  Interesting but odd for a jazzer given the Miles relationship.  Sine Winther played piano.  The other commission was Harry Sdraulig Beyond the ridge, the ranges far, dedicated to a very recently deceased wife with a pic of her walking amongst mountain peaks.  What a wonderful memorial.  Again, some sort of repetition, with each peak followed by another valley and another peak.  Jessica Cottis programmed the night called Electric Blue and spoke of synaesthesia, in which music is experienced in colours.  At least Rimsky-Korsakov had it and Wikipedia says so does JC, so it's relevant.  I wonder how she funds the CSO after all her Euro experiences.  It's a fine orchestra but I wonder if it's a little comfortable as Australians can be.  It wasn't by the end of the night; it was a blast.  Good on ya, CSO and JC.  Well done.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra played Young, Scriabin, Sdraulig and Rimsky-Korsakov in Llewellyn under Jessica Cottis (musical director, conductor) with soloist Sine Winther (piano) and concertmaster Kirsten Williams (violin).

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