Australian Chamber Orchestra presents Brahms 3 @ City Recital Hall

The Australian Chamber Orchestra's flamboyant conductor and violinist Richard Tognetti
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s flamboyant conductor and violinist Richard Tognetti

The latest magnificent concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra was stirring and tempestuous at times and threatened to lift the roof off the City Recital Hall with its rendition of Brahms colossal Third Symphony after interval.

Tognetti was vibrant and emphatic in his conducting, jumping between the conductor’s podium and solo violin, using both the long violin bow and his long, delicate, powerful hands.

The first half consisted of two Mozart works, opening with a lush, splendid performance of the Overture to The Magic Flute, which featured a delightful, golden tone.

The bulk of the first half was the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major with its crystal like sound and the Orchestra’s shimmering playing. The shared duets between Tognetti and Christopher Moore on viola were rapturous, soaring and exquisite, particularly in the second movement.

The first movement started with its swoops and swirls then passed the melody to the various sections of the orchestra. The second movement had a melancholic, yearning feel while the third had a more jaunty bouncy feel with dramatic pauses when ‘a fly’s foot fall could be distinctly heard’ leading to the stirring finale.

The second half of the concert, the Brahms 3, was far more turbulent, darker and Romantic than the Classical Mozart and captured the spirit and essence of the piece.

This piece had a dramatic, tempestuous opening and was full of precisely timed accelerandos and sforzandos that created an atmosphere of urgency and barely controlled power.

There was a very expressive, passionately performed reading of the middle two movements.

In the first movement, explosively powerful and passionate, whirling strings were contrasted and enfolded in a dialogue with some sweet woodwind. At one point the strings were quite ominous and the melancholy woodwind gives one shivers.

The surging music was at points a trifle lighter (smiles from the players). There was darting woodwind and a somewhat quieter, more lyrical section leading to the conclusion.

The second movement was dramatic, ebbing and flowing between woodwind and strings, with a rather tense atmosphere. One section appeared to be more sparkling in style, quite theatrical (‘dawn’ or curtain up perhaps). The third movement, with its lush, sweeping melody had an emphatic end too. It appeared to be played with perhaps more rubato than would be usual.

Swirling strings open the fourth movement leading to a quite dark and storm tossed section. All ends far softer and more lyrically than one would expect after the broiling whirlpools of strings.

After a hushed, stunned silence there was well deserved great applause from the audience for another tremendous concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Running time 1 hour 50 minutes including interval

The Australian Chamber Orchestra in Brahms 3 is at the City Recital Hall various dates between the 18th and 26th August.

Concert Program:-

Mozart Overture from The Magic Flute K 620
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major K 344
Brahms Symphony No 3 in F Major Op. 90