Sunday, October 22, 2017


National Capital Orchestra
Musical Director and Conductor: Leonard Weiss
Dimity Hall, Violin
Julian Smiles, Cello
Llewellyn Hall 21 October 2017

Reviewed by Len Power

The National Capital Orchestra’s latest concert, under the baton of Leonard Weiss, focussed on three very different works, each providing a stimulating and entertaining experience for the audience.

The evening commenced with ‘Chambers Of The South’, composed by Natalie Williams in 2001.  The work was inspired by a photograph of the Pleiades star cluster by astro-photographer David Malin at an exhibition in Adelaide in 1997.  The colours and form of the formation are reflected in the different texture and tone colours of her composition.  It’s a beautiful work, shimmering with atmosphere and colour and it was played extremely well by the orchestra.

It was followed by ‘Queen of Sheba’, a four movement suite by Ottorino Respighi from his epic 1932 ballet, ‘Belkis, Queen of Sheba’.  As with other compositions by Respighi, it’s a highly visual work with sensual dance music and romantic themes creating a mysterious world around the story of Solomon and Sheba.  The four movements vary considerably from romantic dream sequences to a war dance and leading to a final movement of orgiastic dance.  The orchestra was impressive in the quieter sequences and the finale was spectacularly played with clarity and full colour.

In the second half of the program, violinist, Dimity Hall and cellist, Julian Smiles, joined the orchestra for Brahms’ Double Concerto.  Composed in 1887, it is apparently not frequently performed today, perhaps because of the requirement of two equally matched virtuosic performances.  Both Dimity Hall and Julian Smiles showed that they were more than equal to the task, playing with precision and great feeling and supported with fine playing by the orchestra.  This work may be more familiar from recordings but to see it played live gives it another dimension, watching the performers passing the melody back and forth, creating the illusion of a single instrument.

This was another evening of fine music by the National Capital Orchestra.  The musical director, Leonard Weiss, took the opportunity during the concert to announce a particularly exciting program for 2018.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s new ‘On Stage’ program on Mondays from 3.30pm and on ‘Artcetera’ from 9.00am on Saturdays.