Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra | Mozart and More
March 13, The Concourse, Chatswood
Naomi Dodd: Deep Calls To Deep
Mozart: Piano Concerto No 23 in A, K488
Stravinsky: Concerto in E flat “Dumbarton Oaks”
Mozart: Symphony No 36 “Linz”
Covid doesn’t have many benefits but one is that, as at Chatswood on Saturday, one hears more music because of the absence of intervals. The Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra made the most of this with a very varied and innovative programme. Conductor Paul Terracini introduced each work which heightened audience interest.
Naomi Dodd is completing a degree in Music Composition at Sydney Conservatorium. She has already won awards including the Penrith Symphony Orchestra Young Composer award for “Scarlet Sculptures”. We heard “Deep Calls to Deep”, a title taken from Psalm 42, inspired by recent experiences of Scuba diving. Starting calmly, the work builds up to a stormy crescendo with an orchestra as large as in the Concerto to follow, the timpani taking pride of place – the sound of waves was produced by bowing on an upside down cymbal attached to drums. I found the work engaging and evocative and will certainly look out for further compositions from this composer who seems to have a maturity beyond her years.
Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 23 in A Major is probably his most popular, doubtless because of the contrast between the majestic first movement and the exuberant finale enveloping a sad, introspective slow movement which was used to accompany Mozart’s funeral in the film “Amadeus”. It is also, as the conductor informed us, the first of this genre to feature clarinets as opposed to oboes, while the slow movement is the only example of Mozart using F sharp minor as the home key.
Our soloist was Michelle Cheung who has been a member of the KPO for several years playing violin as well as keyboard instruments with the orchestra in works as far apart as Saint-Saens Organ Symphony and Shostakovich’s fifth symphony. She has won numerous prizes including the Sydney Eisteddfod. Amazingly she also has degrees in Medical Science and Law, working currently as a lawyer. She produced an extremely accurate rendition of a very difficult solo part, particularly the final Rondo and perhaps with maturity might achieve a greater degree of expressionism.
It’s surprising perhaps that Igor Stravinsky should write a work titled “Dumbarton Oaks” which is as far from Russia as one can get. As was explained, the composer was living in the United States at the time and the work was commissioned by the politician and philanthropist Robert Bliss, from whose estate the title comes. There are three movements without break and the work to me is reminiscent of “Pulcinella” in that Baroque ideas are expressed in a twentieth century idiom with syncopation and dystonic chords. The result is an engaging and original work, typical of the composer’s desire to break new grounds yet remain listenable.
If we were exhausted by this, Mozart’s Linz Symphony injected us with energy. Mozart could write major works quickly but none more so than when he arrived in Linz on the way home from Salzburg to Vienna and Count Hohenstein commissioned him to present a symphony at a concert four days later. Unfortunately, but fortunately for us, Wolfgang had no Symphonies with him and had to write one! A slow introduction is followed by an energetic theme while the slow movement unusually features drums and trumpets. A signature Minuet is followed by a rousing Finale.
In a previous review, I noted the huge improvement in the sound of the KPO and I’m delighted to report that the improvement has been more than maintained. Clearly, this is largely due to the energy, enthusiasm and expertise of Paul Terracini who has in particular devoted a lot of his time to the encouragement of Youth Orchestras.
What a great evening, which even running into our restaurant booking could not spoil.