|The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra in the Albert Hall, Canberra.
Romantic & Classical Orchestra conducted by Rachael Beesley.
Canberra: August 1st, 2003. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
For this final Canberra concert in its 2023 10th Anniversary season, presented in Canberra’s historic Albert Hall, the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra offered a dazzling performance of works by Mendelssohn and Beethoven for which it had gathered together 41 of Australia’s finest early music exponents.
was part of an extensive tour by the Australian Romantic & Classical
Orchestra encompassing, in addition to Canberra, Brisbane,
Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Penrith and Chatswood and undertaken to celebrate the orchestra's foundation in 2012 by the late Richard Gill.
Many of the orchestra’s
original members who are now principal players in orchestras overseas, returned
home especially to take part in this tour. Among them Canberra’s own born
and bred principal bassoon, Lisa Goldberg, who now lives in Ghent. A Canberra
local, violist, John Ma, has also joined them.
feature of the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra is that most of
its members play on either original instruments, or copies of instruments, from the
period in which the music they play was composed, which adds an element of authenticity
to the experience of listening to their interpretations.
The concert began with a scintillating performance of the popular, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream –
Overture, OP 21”, written by Mendelssohn while still a teenager, after he had read a German translation of Shakespeare’s play.
This work is among
Mendelssohn’s most popular compositions and it was not difficult to imagine the
scampering of fairies, or the braying of Bottom discovering that his head has been
replaced by that of an ass, while being captivated by Mendelssohn’s fertile teenage
imagination and precocious mastery of instrumentation.
|Rachel Beesley conducting the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra.
Nor was it
difficult to be captivated by the conducting of the Australian Romantic &
Classical Orchestra’s co-Artistic Director, Rachael Beesley, who conducted each
of the works from her violin. Utilising every muscle at her disposal she signalled
her wishes regarding tempi and expression to the receptive musicians. Her
obvious joy in the music was so palpable, that it was impossible, for both
the musicians and the audience, not to be caught up in her enthusiasm.
light-hearted “Symphony No.8 in F Major, Op.93” is probably best known for its
second movement which contains the repeated chords by the woodwinds supposedly
meant as an in-joke by Beethoven for his friend, Maelzel, the inventor of the
metronome. Others admire it for its
third movement minuet containing the gorgeous clarinet solo, superbly performed
on this occasion by Nicole van Bruggen.
the preference, each of the four movements was given an exquisitely shaped performance
by the entire ensemble.
offering of the evening was appropriately Mendelssohn’s final symphony, the epic
“Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56”, also known as the “Scottish”.
symphony is unusual in that Mendelssohn marked the movements to be performed
without a break, and although the title “Scottish” was attached to the Symphony
after Mendelssohn’s death, there’s no doubting that it’s easy to conjure up
poetic images of the ruined chapel of Holyrood which the composer visited.
The second movement certainly sets the toes a ’tapping with all the instruments busily tempting the audience to burst into dance. But it’s after the graceful third adagio movement that the excitement really takes hold as the regal beginning of final movement leads into the stirring coda, meant to emulate a male-voice choir, that brings this work to its thrilling conclusion.
|Co-Artistic Directors Nicole van Bruggen and Rachel Beesley and members of the
Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra.
the audience to the performance, co-Artistic Director and Principal clarinet,
Nicole Van Bruggen, remarked that with this season the orchestra had been
investigating how music makes us feel. Well, from the vociferous applause at
the end of this concert, there was certainly no doubt about how this audience
Images by Peter Hislop
This review also appears in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au