Tag Archives: The Metropolitan Orchestra

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.

 

TMO Met Concert 3 @ The Eugene Goosens Hall

TMO Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with piano soloist Simon Tedeschi

TMO’s MET CONCERT # 3 continued the 2015 season by enjoying another capacity crowd at the ABC Centre’s Eugene Goossens Hall. Its cohesive programme celebrated an Australian work evoking the spirituality of an iconic local landscape, a popular Australian pianist performing one of the nineteenth century’s best known concertos, and a symphonic favourite influenced by indigenous American melodies and culture.

Peter Sculthorpe’s ‘From Uluru’ (1992) was an intense and atmospheric start to an expressive night. It is perhaps not heard as regularly as his landscape-specific works ‘Kakadu’ (1988), ‘Earth Cry’ (1986), or ‘Mangrove’ (1979), but this shorter work is no less a gem with sustained sections of shifting atmospheres. TMO presented the work with pleasing clarity and richness of colour. Many shapes, aspects of Dreaming and a sense of a landmark’s impact were communicated through this performance. Continue reading TMO Met Concert 3 @ The 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