Review - 22 Apr 2024

Maestro brings about gripping performance

A large audience on Saturday night enjoyed the first international concert of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra conducted by renowned maestro Matthias Bamert in the Dunedin Town Hall.

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven, Brahms and Strauss,
Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday, April 20

ODT Review : Monday 22 April 2024 by Judy Bellingham

The opening work was Beethoven’s Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus Op 43.

After the opening orchestral chords, and once the orchestra had settled down rhythmically, the conductor exploited the contrasts of dynamics and orchestration, creating a cohesive and compelling performance.

A highlight of the programme was the performance of Richard Strauss’ French Horn Concerto No 1 Op 11 by Samuel Jacobs.

Jacobs used the full range of dynamics available on the horn from hunting style fortissimi to spellbinding pianissimi, which were particularly mesmerising in the middle andante section.

The subtle and constant support of the orchestra highlighted the beauty and lyricism of his playing and his admirable breath control. The audience responded with rapturous and prolonged applause.

Brahms’ Symphony No 3 in F Major Op 90 allowed the orchestra to display its ability to interpret various moods and atmospheres.

Bamert conducted from memory and with minimal gestures, thus revealing the depth of his experience.

There was rhythmic ebb and flow in the first movement, while the second movement featured a sweeping legato line well highlighted by the wind and brass.

The cellos opened the third movement with a well-crafted and searingly beautiful melody that was later taken over by other instruments.

The final movement was taken at a brisk pace and brought the symphony to an unusually restful end.

The programme ended with an "encore-style" performance of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 1 in G Minor.

Here, Bamert conducted with more dynamism than previously displayed.

The orchestra responded to this, playing with enthusiasm and elan, thus bringing this concert to a fitting and exciting end.

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