We were privileged to see absolutely dazzling dancing in this revival of Balanchine’s Jewels by the Royal Ballet.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Balanchine’s work and a decade since it became part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire.
The three works, all without a clear narrative structure, are a homage by Balanchine to French Romanticism (Emeralds) America and Broadway (Rubies) and the Imperial Russian ballet of Petipa ( Diamonds). The works feature scores by three composers – Faure , Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
This was a thrilling concert in the beautiful , elegant Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The Orchestra under maestro Eduardo Diazmunoz was magnificent. Diazmunoz’s conducting was precise, energetic, refined and mostly restrained, except in the case of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring during which he was jumping around,
After the introduction and welcoming speeches by the Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AM ,the opening work was the delightful world premiere of Anne Boyd AM”sOlive Pink’s Garden which requires an absolutely HUGE orchestra,
Under the umbrella title MARWOOD’S SERENADE the Australian Chamber Orchestra is collaborating with their friend Anthony Marwood as guest director and conductor and lead violin. This concert closes a very exciting 2014 season with some unexpected, delightful riches in a showcase of scintillating string orchestra repertoire.
Marwood himself is tall, pale and imposing, and plays passionately, delicately and with enormous presence. He was born in London and studied with Emanuel Hurwitz at the Royal Academy of Music. Marwood now has a discography of over thirty recordings and has performed internationally with major chamber ensembles.
The program opens with Stravinsky’s balletic tribute to Tchaikovsky, his Divertimento based on La Baiser de la Fee (The Fairy Kiss). The music is glorious and the tone of Marwood’s Bergonzi violin superb. This is Stravinsky at his best, largely using lesser known Tchaikovsky excerpts (for example, instruments are allocated to specific notes of Tchaikovsky’s Humouresque. Some of the work had a mysterious feel, some of it flowed and soared or darted,- you could hear the spins and jumps required for this vibrant work.
The second work on the program, Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in E major Op. 22 was composed in May 1875. The first movement begins delightfully, lush and swirling, and features two intertwining melodies. Then there is a jaunty, cascading rhythm and a rather wistful melancholic return to the original theme. The second movement includes an impassioned waltz with sweeping, flowing, rippling melodies contrasted with sharp, spiky interruptions.
The third movement is, at first, a little slower but gathers momentum as it continues. The fourth movement was achingly beautiful and poignant. The final fifth movement had a vibrant, spiky fast spectacular opening and concluded with a memorable flourish.
To complete the concert we heard the Enescu Octet, first performed in 1909, in the version for full string orchestra. Enescu’s work is now regarded as a blend of modern and late Romanticism. The work includes roughly nine to twelve melodic themes, most of which are introduced in the first section.
Enescu Octet has a very strong opening with rumbles from the cellos. Later, lilting, meandering melodies are contrasted with tumultuous flurries and fiendishly complicated rhythms.
The second movement was quite briskly played. The last movement was far slower and more melancholic. The playing of the aching melodies was exquisite. Sudden dark stormy changes were interspersed with flowing, luminous sections. The third and final part of the work is a lyrical, slow section which added even more themes.
This was a marvelous concert, full of luscious playing.
Running time 2 hours ( approx) including interval.
MARWOOD’S SERENADE by the Australian Chamber Orchestra is playing the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, on the 19th, 20th and 25th November and at the Sydney Opera House on the 30th November.