The wonderful concert that brought the ACO’s 2019 season to a close was entitled BRAHMS/DVORAK with the ACO in glorious rich and finely nuanced form under the leadership of Tognetti whose conducting was precise , vigorous and yet extremely expressive as well .
Andrew Ford’s ‘Fanfare for Neverland’ ( a world premiere) for solo trumpet as played by Visa Haarala up in the top gallery was a bright yet lyrical piece , with the trumpet slithering , skittering and sliding .
The Australian premiere of Andrew Norman’s Grand Turismo followed , using eight virtuoso violinists .It is a flurried , circular conversation between them , at times sharp and spiky then suddenly contrasted with soft lyrical segments and tiny pauses of stillness. The emphatic animated ensemble music has ominous pulsating under rhythms.
Brahms ‘Concerto for violin and cello in A Minor ‘(Double Concerto) made up the bulk of the first half , with the ACO enlarged to the size of a full symphony orchestra , a treat featuring Tognetti on violin and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello in an extraordinary partnership, Helena Rathbone beating time when Tognetti was playing . The entire work crackled with tension.
The first movement began stridently Valve on cello passionately , elegantly ‘singing’ then becoming fiery. lighter flowing sections were contrasted with scurrying orchestral swells .A duet between Tognetti and Valve was hovering lyrical and humming. It was then Tognetti’s turn to ‘ sing’ on the violin in an eloquent , heartbroken fragile solo with the Orchestra dynamically accompanying.
This then changed to a fast skittering melody with tumbling woodwind leading to the tumultuous conclusion.The second movement was slower and more pensive than the first, with strong woodwind and the melody stated and passed around the sections of the orchestra .Tognetti and Valve together are achingly , soaringly exquisite .The third movement with its brisk circular dance melody was playful and teasing leading to a forceful orchestra with a tumbling wave of sound and a thunderous spiky finish.
Dvorak’ s ‘Symphony No 8 in G Major’ came after interval in a rich , full bodied rendition of Dvorak’s amble around his home city . Listen out for the horns in the first movement and the flute ( played by Sally Walker) .There is a great sense of urgency and turbulence throughout.
The slower second movement had a regal statement of the melody which was passed around the Orchestra vociferously repeated by the violins. Birdlike woodwind , puffing brass and pulsating flowing strings are featured.The short third movement with its rolling melody was bright and waltzlike. (dancing on the village green? )The final fourth movement opened with a blare of trumpets.At first the cellos ,then the rest of the Orchestra state and repeat the main melody .There are some lyrical strings and woodwind breathlessly interrupt at one point all leading to the crashing conclusion .
The ACO in Brahms and Dvorak played various dates and venues 9-22 November 2019.
Running time two hours including interval