Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra | Beethoven’s 5th
November 19, 2023, St Ives Uniting Church. NSW
What an enticing programme by the KPO at St Ives Uniting Church which, not surprisingly, was full to the brim.
The opening overture, Rossini’s Barber of Seville showed the composer’s flair with variety of themes and his famous prolonged crescendos. Rossini’s overtures were more numerous and more successful than his operas.
Then followed, as effervescent conductor Monica Buckland explained, an “overture” that isn’t an overture but a “tone poem”. Monica has conducted extensively in Europe, in particular Switzerland and her native UK. She is an Associate of Newnham College Cambridge. In Sydney she conducts education concerts with the SSO and is Director of the Balmain Sinfonia. Don’t ask what she does in her spare time! Mendelssohn was well-travelled and was lucky enough to sail from the Hebridean island Mull to Fingal’s cave, an inlet fashioned in basalt. To my mind The Hebrides is the most descriptive piece of music ever written. The boat journey, the calm sea, the ensuing storm, the cave and the surrounding and the safe return…
We then heard two pieces featuring young bassoonist Milo Abrahams, the first a short Romance by Edward Elgar and the second Rondo Ungarese by Weber. The latter in particular allowed Milo to demonstrate his considerable skill in fast passages in an engaging work – I’m sure he will go far.
Back to more familiar territory with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. This work never fails to amaze – powerful and emphatic, one hears new inflexions and meanings on each new hearing. Not an easy task for the orchestra but under the direction of Monica, now based in Australia, they rose to the occasion magnificently. A special word for the woodwind section who had critical solos, particularly in the Beethoven, and were faultless.