Tag Archives: Sarah-Grace Williams

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-“MASTERWORKS” @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

 

Featured image: Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams and The Metropolitan Orchestra. 

This concert of two very well known ‘Masterworks’ brought TMO back to the stage in fine form for its first ‘Met Series’ concert of 2017. A warm and appreciative audience eagerly awaited the chance to hear Sibelius’ Concerto in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra followed by no less than Brahms’ mighty Symphony No 1 in C minor Op 68.

Joining TMO as soloist for the second year in a row was Anna Da Silva Chen. Her powerhouse performance was fresh and commanding in nature. Da Silva Chen is constantly developing as an athletic and thoughtful virtuoso.

The first movement reached out to us with a clean and crisp approach. TMO, as led by Sarah-Grace Williams, made the most of all opportunities to enhance rhythmic complexities, melodic development and successive levels of dramatic mood.

There was thankfully no over-interpretation nor self-indulgent over-playing from this soloist. Bravura passages added throughout the first movement by Sibelius to showcase the violin as much as possible were rendered with prodigious depth of strength but avoided awkward heaviness.

A delicate song-like restraint and no-nonsense rendition of the concerto’s famous opening was a real highlight. This approach was not fussy and immediately drew us towards the soloist and to the qualities of the featured instrument Sibelius was able to promote.

Da Silva Chen’s respect for a stable melodic architecture alongside dazzling and fluid virtuosity continued into the second movement. Here, a beautiful pursuance of line and intricate collaboration with the orchestra made for some fine moments.

The energy and character needed from soloist and orchestra to bring this concerto to a close was on offer during the final movement. A lithe, elevated display from Da Silva Chen and a gutsy, well punctuated dealing with Sibelius’ challenges from TMO earned both a standing ovation.

Following interval, TMO’s version of Symphony No 1 in C minor Opus 68 was interpreted with clear and direct Brahms like Romanticism

Conductor Sarah Grace Williams preserved momentum throughout the sprawling movements and the composer’s wish to present deep emotion on a large scale but not let unnecessary sentiment compromise the security of structure and direction in music.

Effective choice of tempi especially enhanced the flow of the opening and final movements. The iconic timpani part known by fans of this work was well performed here. Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams kept the reaching nature of the Andante sostenuto second movement at a level of gentle poise as Brahms’ shifting patterns of tone colours moved smoothly about. The result was a hushed, hypnotic, forward moving  bulk of calm.

A highlight of this symphony’s agile interpretation was the sunny pastoral interlude which the third movement embodies. Fine playing from the winds, especially the clarinet theme, transported us to a gentle and well-balanced place.

Challenging rhythmic complexities and Brahms’ manipulations of orchestral textures were well-handled in this interpretation and they also rocketed the work to an exciting conclusion. The flow of developing ideas and changing colours were presented with easy eloquence in the final movement as it had been previously.

The successful juxtaposition of two giant Romantic period works was a bold programming choice. It was one which definitely paid off, cementing TMO’s ‘tour de force’ status in the local music scene very early in this year’s musical calendar.

 

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

Glenn 2

Above: Violin soloist Glenn Christensen played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with TMO. Featured image: The Metropolitan Orchestra and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams. Photo credit: John B Chen.

The fourth concert in TMO’s 2016 season, ‘The Great’ was a substantial undertaking. Its exciting programme consisted of two very well-known works regarded as being great due to their inspiration, structure and impact.

These works were written by two composers considered amongst the greatest of their era and of all time. TMO admirably met the challenge of presenting early nineteenth century works by Beethoven and Schubert in fresh and captivating interpretations.

To begin this concert’s juxtaposition of two great works, TMO collaborated with violinist Glenn Christensen in a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major Opus 61. At all times throughout this work TMO supported the soloist well.

The essence of Beethoven’s uniquely direct rhetoric was delivered through clear realisation of thematic material. Full orchestral textures were satisfyingly blended and Beethoven’s burgeoning Romantic leanings were evident in striking declamations from the orchestra alone.

Violinist Glenn Christensen presented an extremely sensitive and elegant opening movement to this work. Without the hectic bravura often heard, the structure of the violin solo utterances was expressively and at times uniquely outlined. The building blocks of this famous movement were laid down successfully with considerable grace and unhurried reverence.

This work’s slow movement demands an interpretation from soloist and orchestra which maintains beauty and lyricism over a difficult and prolonged expanse. The attempt on this occasion was successful in this regard. It also was the best balanced playing between violin soloist and TMO heard in the work.

The performance of this movement yielded a steady thread of exquisite cantabile voice and an exemplary rendering of authentic Beethoven expansive slow movement fare. As in the remainder of the work, Christensen’s moments reaching to the very high register were gentle yet stunning in their precision.

TMO and Christensen launched themselves out of the central movement’s stillness and into the final rondo movement with instant and great contrast. The theme was joyously characterised and we were treated to some energetic fireworks in the violin elaboration.

Following interval Schubert’s profound Symphony No 9 in C major D944 ‘The Great’ was played with great drama, great control and great respect for Schubert’s architectural and dramatic ambition. The creative concepts and textural variety of the composer’s vision were well promoted. We heard this work’s intricacies and climaxes being well articulated despite the large forces assembled.

From the symphony’s outset and introduction from the horn section there was an air of noble restraint. This continued particularly in TMO’s winds whenever needed throughout. Oboe lines were nicely drawn and held above the rest of the orchestral colour. The oboe parts which feature in the second movement were also steadfast and captivating.

The contrasts in the third movement Scherzo and Trio were superbly handled, making this section of the symphonic journey a crisp, buoyant and satisfying event. TMO showcased themselves and Schubert as progressive artisans in this movement, a highlight of the performance.

At the conclusion of this symphony and the concert TMO showed no cracks in their stamina or artistry. This was yet another satisfying Met Series Concert. The final Met Concert for 2016 at the ABC Centre takes place on November 12. It features TMO’s principal clarinettist in a work by Elena Kats-Chernin. The programme will also include Beethoven’s loved Symphony No 7.

http://www.metorchestra.com.au/

TMO MET CONCERT #3 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

SGW TMO Met 3 2016

Above: Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams.

With its Met Concert 3 for 2016, TMO continues to be consistently thrilling. The concert’s first half engaged the listener with commanding gestures and precision phrasing imbued with suitable expression.

In world premiere we first heard Fantasy on a Theme of Mendelssohn by Sean O’Boyle AM. This eclectic and clever work commissioned by TMO and conductor Sarah Grace Williams was highly accessible whilst remaining innovative and unique in design.

TMO led by Sarah-Grace Williams excelled in portraying O’Boyle’s jaunty and episodic elaborations. The beautiful Mendelssohn theme from On Wings of Song was subjected to short but lush orchestral iterations and duly developed.

Concluding this Met Concert’s first half was Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No 1 in E flat Op 11. Principal Horn of player TMO, Michael Wray, produced very agreeable cantabile tone and fine manipulation of expansive melodies in both the first and second movement.

Wray’s playing across registers made for an exciting display in this concerto. Sympathetic, supportive and crisp accompaniment was yet again supplied by TMO for the featured soloist, as has been the case in other Met Series concerts.

This concert’s second half showcased TMO sans soloist. TMO’s ability to create distinct worlds for each orchestral work, composer or musical period was well displayed. It was almost tempting to deny convention and crave a future concert with works explored by TMO alone without an interlude for concerto soloist.

That comment aside, Met Concert 3 would not have been the dazzling success it was without the chance to hear the Horn Concerto No 1 by Strauss with a TMO principal featured. Also, the upcoming programme on August 20 includes the sublime Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major Op 61, to be played by Glenn Christensen.

The interpretation of the Beethoven Opus 61 is eagerly anticipated following this concert’s delivery of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture. This work was true overture fare. The orchestral unison from its attention-grabbing opening right to its functional, hushed, and curtain-raising conclusion always had measured authenticity and a decent sense of drama.

With crystal clear delineation of structure, the expressive and thematic directness was revived with appropriate Beethoven branded emphasis throughout.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4 Op 90 ‘Italian’, concluded this event and celebrated TMO’s seventh birthday year. This Symphony was heard in their very first concert. TMO in its current level of maturity and birthday year generously gifted us with a bright, glistening performance of the Italian Symphony.

The final Presto movement brought the finely articulated work and concert to a stunning close with well-contained, bristling energy. Continuing the success of earlier movements to efficiently evoke atmosphere, develop motives and meet the challenges of Mendelssohn’s intricate orchestral writing, TMO’s gift to us of this work from their repertoire was an entertaining and notable example of nineteenth century orchestral style.

To assist in maintaining TMO’s notable place in our performing environment, we can in turn offer TMO a gift during their current end of financial year fundraising drive. A link to this website area can be found at: www.chuffed.org/project/tmo2016

TMO MET CONCERT #2 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL ABC CENTRE

Benjamin Kopp

Above : Pianist Benjamin Kopp (from the Streeton Trio) performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 with TMO. Featured image: Sarah-Grace Williams-Artistic Director and conductor of TMO.

The Metropolitan Orchestra’s cohesiveness, collective stamina and calibre of expression continues to go from strength to strength. These exciting qualities enabled works of Russian greats to be featured exclusively in Met Concert #2. Their compositions were delivered with scintillating levels of clarity and emotion.

In yet another sold out event at the ABC Centre’s Eugene Goossens Hall, the programme consisted of two major Russian orchestral classics from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first half of the concert saw the orchestra collaborate with Australian pianist Benjamin Kopp in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no 1 Op 23. Following interval we heard a stunning performance of the Symphony No 10 in E Minor Op 93 by Shostakovich. Continue reading TMO MET CONCERT #2 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL ABC CENTRE

TMO PRESENTS CONCERT #5 @ THE EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL, ABC CENTRE

 

Main image: Sarah-Grace Williams leads The Metropolitan Orchestra. Above: Da Silva Chen was soloist in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Main image: Sarah-Grace Williams leads The Metropolitan Orchestra. Above: Anna Da Silva Chen was soloist in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

The Metropolitan Orchestra’s (TMO) Concert #5 at the ABC Centre’s Eugene Goossen’s Hall followed the successful pattern of previous concerts in this series.

A local soloist was featured with TMO in the concert’s first half. After interval TMO was showcased in a performance of a major work from the orchestral repertoire.

Met Concert #5’s soloist was 19 year-old Sydney Conservatorium student Anna Da Silva Chen. Anna performed the Violin Concerto in D major Op 35 by Tchaikovsky. This work, premiered in 1881, is famous for its technical fireworks and emotional intensity. Continue reading TMO PRESENTS CONCERT #5 @ THE EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL, ABC CENTRE

TMO MET CONCERT #4 @ EUGENE GOOSENS HALL

TMO principal flautist Svetlana Yaroslavskaya with chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams
TMO principal flautist Svetlana Yaroslavskaya with chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

From chamber music which re-works a Baroque master’s keyboard pieces to a masterful interpretation of a titan amongst the orchestral repertoire, The Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) presented yet another inspiring concert in the 2015 Met Concert series.

This concert opened with Elena Kats-Chernin’s innovative musings on JS Bach’s Two Part Inventions for keyboard. The work transforms selected inventions into a chamber music treat for wind soloist and strings. Originally conceived for recorders and strings, this Met Concert version premiered the works performance on piccolo, flute and alto flute by TMO principal Svetlana Yaroslavskaya. Continue reading TMO MET CONCERT #4 @ EUGENE GOOSENS HALL

The Metropolitan Orchestra: Met Concert 2 @ The Eugene Goosens Hall

TMO Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with piano soloist Bernard Walz
TMO Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with piano soloist Bernard Walz

The Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) continues to illustrate their versatility and industry as an orchestra. Amongst some fourteen concerts and events for 2015, TMO appeared with John Farnham and Olivia Newton John in April. They have family concerts with children’s favourites Lah-Lah and Buzz planned for late May.

TMO took a gamble when programming Met Concert 2 with such savage contrasts between the works. It is a gamble which more than paid off for the orchestra. The sold out house could probably have sold a decent amount of tickets for a comfortably-seated repeat concert.

The orchestra explored the musical portraiture of Englishman Edward Elgar, visited Kodály’s nationalistic response to historical Hungarian music, and collaborated with pianist Bernard Walz to revive Gershwin’s marriage of jazz elements with the traditional concerto form. Continue reading The Metropolitan Orchestra: Met Concert 2 @ The Eugene Goosens Hall

Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall

Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

The TMO’s  Met Concert #1 was stunning! This first concert in the 2015 season contained a challenging programme of very well-known works from the Baroque and Classical eras. These challenges were met by the soloists, orchestra and conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with discipline, energy, artistry and genuine enthusiastic music-making. If this concert is an indication of what is to emerge from TMO in 2015, then its audiences are in for quite a year.

As in many previous Met Concert series, the format included works highlighting one of the orchestra’s principals and also a guest artist. TMO strings were showcased in both chamber music and string orchestra contexts. The string orchestra was augmented and inspired by the talented Australian violinist Lisa Stewart.

TMO Principal Clarinetist Andrew Doyle presented us with a fine Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K 581 with well-balanced playing from the TMO’s string quartet featuring Nataliya Lukich, Christina Ong, Luke Spicer and Steve Meyer. Continue reading Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall

MET CONCERT # 4

Violinist Kirsten Williams
Violinist Kirsten Williams was outstanding in the TMO’s last concert for the year

The final Met Series concert for 2014 saw TMO in fine form delivering drama and atmosphere within the structure of works by Mozart, Sibelius and Brahms. The soloist for this evening was violinist Kirsten Williams, accompanied attentively by the orchestra.

Opening the program was the overture to Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’. Its contrasted sections of solemn and energetic music evoked the colourful layers of this fanciful story well. It was also a suitable prelude to the drama waiting to unfold in the Met Concert program.

In the hands of Kirsten Williams, excerpts from Sibelius’ Violin Concerto showed a mastery of rendering the sprawling melodic lines and constant changes of mood. Her tone was searching and pure in the upper register. There was a pleasing rapport with TMO, which supported with warm tone and consistency of mood alongside the soloist. The hushed anticipation in strings for the opening to the first movement was exquisite. Continue reading MET CONCERT # 4

TMO – MET CONCERT 1

Svetlana Yaroslavskaya and Sarah Grace
Conductor Sarah Grace (right) with orchestra member and now soloist, flautist Svetlana Yaroslavskaya

It is always an exciting concert moment when a member of any orchestra’s ranks emerges as a soloist. In this first Met Concert for 2014, TMO’s brand was given a boost when Svetlana Yaroslavskaya performed Carl Vine’s Pipe Dreams for Flute and Orchestra.

For the 2014 Met Concert series, the orchestra has moved into a new venue, namely the ABC Centre’s roomy and reverberant Eugene Goosens Hall. There was a definite theme of expansion, new horizons and adaptability in both the performance environment and the ground-breaking programmed works for this new subscription series.

Carl Vine’s ingenuity ensures his work explores many subtleties of texture for soloist and orchestra rather than a soloist dominating the moment. The promotion of Yaroslavkaya to soloist in this unique style of virtuosity also demonstrated flexibility of single line and the orchestral accompaniment, as well as the resources of the TMO itself.

Mozart’s Symphony No 31 ‘Paris’, K297/300a continues the theme of change and new horizons with Mozart writing in altered forms for a larger Parisian orchestra. This programme of works breaking new ground in their time also included an exciting rendering of Robert Schumann’s five movement Symphony No 3 ‘Rhenish’, which includes a large number of players including sizeable brass choir.

Svetlana Yaroslavkaya was spellbinding in her performance of Vine’s Pipe Dreams for Flute and Orchestra. She captured the seamless contour and virtuosic balance of the flute part against Vine’s innovative orchestral effects. Impressively long threads of often angular phrasing expressively evoked the complexities of reverie.

The ‘Paris’ Symphony was full of excitement and the necessary operatic-like drama required for Mozart playing. The first movement, offered a solid declamatory opening and the development section was a fine example of clarity despite drama and momentum

Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’ symphony occupied the concert’s entire second half. This sprawling work comes from a creative surge in the composer’s troubled later life. The highlight for this performance was witnessing the large 2014 orchestra complete with French horns and trombones shape the complexities of Schumann’s score in busy but well-articulated broad strokes.

Some entries exchanged between instruments could have been even more resonant above the full and busy orchestra in the finale to this concert. However, such blurred moments were very short lived. The orchestra, and especially the brass choir which augmented it, triumphed in treating the audience to a full Schumann sound.

The many and varied appearances of the entertaining TMO throughout the rest of 2014 range from family concerts through choral collaborations to luxury cruise entertainment. There is something in these symphonic sounds for everyone.

For more about TMO – Met Concert 1, visit http://www.metorchestra.com.au