The Melbourne Musicians concert at MLC’s James Tatoulis Auditorium showcased an outstanding line up of local talents in a unique concerto extravaganza. Led by Artistic Director, Frank U. Pam, the chamber orchestra is laudable in its focus on providing a platform for local talents to further their performing careers.
Leading Australian oboist Anne Gilby opened the program with a spirited and nuanced rendition of the Cimarosa Oboe Concerto in C minor. The concerto is an aggregation of four eighteenth-century keyboard sonatas composed in Naples by Domenico Cimarosa, and arranged into oboe concertos by the Australian composer, Arthur Benjamin. Gilby, along with the Melbourne Musicians, captured the lively essence and pellucid harmonies of the concerto with strong rhythmical synchronisation. The orchestral bassi section provided a proficiently robust harmonic foundation to the performance.
An enthralling performance of Haydn’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major with cadenzas by Carl Flesch followed, by emerging artist Mia Yang. Written for Luigi Tomasini, the Konzertmeister of Haydn’s orchestra in the eighteenth-century court of Prince Pál Antal Esterházy, the concerto is no small feat as one designed to parade the bravura and beautiful Italiante tone of Tomasini’s playing. Yang, however, handled the virtuosic work with commendable control in a performance laden with thematic double stopping, spiccato, wide leaps and rapid ornamentation. The chamber orchestra provided a backdrop of coloristic harmonic transitions and musical moments reminiscent of Bach and Vivaldi. The Adagio movement filled the auditorium with a lulling serenade as the solo violin melody sang in the high registers, accompanied by the orchestra’s gentle string pizzicato. This was then transformed into a sprightly, full orchestral sound showcasing the virtuosity of both Yang and the orchestra in the fast rondo of the final Presto movement.
Recently returned from studies in London, pianist David Soo gave a delightful appetiser to his concerto solo, with a performance of Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D, K. 382. The Rondo was composed as an alternative finale to Mozart’s earliest Piano Concerto D, K. 175, while establishing his reputation in Vienna after moving from Salzburg in 1781. Through a confident display of virtuosic passagework, exquisitely shaped phrases and rich harmonies, Soo performed with remarkable accuracy along with the orchestra, while conveying the charming character of the set of variations. Following the interval, the pianist returned with Beethoven’s Concerto No. 1 in C major; the orchestra opening the first movement with Mozartean panache and tonal sensitivity. Soo’s fine finger dexterity, dynamic control and expressive qualities depicted the poignant style of Beethoven’s concerto with its contrasting movements and cadenzas. He concluded the concert with a fitting encore of the composer’s simple, but ever-charming Für Elise.