Review - 25 Apr 2024

Audience enthralled by stirring performance

The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra responded beautifully to the steady hand of distinguished visiting conductor Matthias Bamert with a stirring performance of works by three great German composers on Saturday night.

Review by Brenda Harwood - The Star, Thursday 25 April 2024

"BEETHOVEN, BRAHMS AND STRAUSS" Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Dunedin Town Hall Saturday, April 20, 2024

A large Dunedin Town Hall audience listened enthralled as the orchestra launched into the concert’s opening work, Ludvig Van Beethoven’s short, but dramatic Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus.

Written when the composer was just 29, the piece is filled with bold changes in key and dynamics, all of which were tackled with aplomb by the orchestra, and conducted from memory by Bamert.

Anticipation was high as New Zealand Symphony Orchestra principal french horn player Sam Jacobs joined the DSO on stage for the first time as soloist in Richard Strauss’ graceful and brilliant French Horn Concerto No.1.

It was a rare treat to experience a concerto performed on the normally back-row instrument, and fascinating to observe the methods used by Jacobs to coax different timbres from the horn to meet the demands of the piece — from a muted singing to a bold fortissimo.

Matching the quality of Jacobs’ playing, the DSO were sterling and responsive in support.

The concert’s second half was devoted to the music of Johannes Brahms — firstly his glorious Symphony No. 3 in F Major, and ending with the flourish of the Hungarian Dance No.1.

Again, conducting from memory, Bamert led the orchestra through a superb performance of the symphony, bringing the work’s lovely tunes to the fore, keeping entrances bang-on.

Finishing the concert with the short and thrilling Hungarian Dance No.1, was a stroke of genius, ending with a flourish that drew shouts of enthusiasm from the orchestra.

All in all, the "Beethoven, Strauss and Brahms" concert was a triumph for all involved. Bravo!

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