Monday, October 14, 2019


Conducted by Alan Cook
Soloist: Eloise Fisher, Clarinet
The Q, Queanbeyan Sunday 13 October

Reviewed by Len Power

The National Capital Orchestra presented a very enjoyable program of four works that took us from modern day Australia to Europe and Russia of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Conductor, Alan Cook, has enjoyed a busy international career and is currently Music Director of ‘Melbourne Chamber Choir’ and Artistic Director of ‘More Than Opera’.

The program commenced with ‘Orchestral Equations’ by Melbourne-based composer May Lyon whose music explores themes from deep human emotions, history and mythology, through to mathematical concepts.  In three movements, ‘Orchestral Equations’ is described as a symphonic poem loosely based on the solving of a 17th century mathematical riddle.
The first movement gave a fine sense of working on and edging towards a solution but never quite getting there.  The slower second movement had a grandeur indicating the slow passing of time and progress over the centuries until the third movement where the music indicated the mathematical solution had been found.  It was accessible, evocative music and it was played well by the orchestra.  Composer, May Lyon, was in the audience and took a bow at the end of the performance.

May Lyon and Alan Cook

Eloise Fisher then joined the orchestra to play solo clarinet for Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A.  She is the winner of prizes from numerous prestigious competitions in Beijing, London and Paris.  She received her Doctorate in Musical Arts from The Juilliard School in New York and is on staff at the ANU.

Eloise Fisher and Alan Cook

The Clarinet Concerto is well-known and often heard on concert stages.  The spirited first movement was well-played by soloist and orchestra but it was the second movement where the combination of soloist and orchestra was most memorable.  The third movement was also very well played.

After interval, the program continued with two works by Russian composers.  The Antar Symphony by Rimsky-Korsakov, composed in 1897, is an atmospheric work set in Arabia and based on a story from the collection ‘The Fantastic Journeys of Baron Brambeus by Osip Senkovsky.  It’s a colourful work full of the mystery and atmosphere of the Middle East and the orchestra gave it a very fine performance.

National Capital Orchestra

The final work, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances was first performed in 1890.  Written for the opera ‘Prince Igor’, this evocative work is a staple of the concert stage.  Passages of the work have also become very familiar since the early 1950s when they were used as a basis for songs in the successful Broadway musical, ‘Kismet’.  The orchestra played the work very well, bringing out the passion and drama of the music very nicely.  It was a great finale to a very pleasant afternoon concert

Photos by Peter Hislop
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.