Above and featured image : SYO members with Chief Conductor Alexander Briger.
This winter concert from SYO in City Recital Hall was an exciting and entertaining romp through two very well known and loved orchestral works. Both well known works on this challenging programme were played with considerable energy, enunciation and elation.
The talented young orchestral players displayed formidable stamina and finesse as they were guided through some fine interpretations by conductor Alexander Briger.
To begin the afternoon, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite was explored in turn with impressive restraint and exuberance by SYO. With nice shaping of Copland’s simple, sparse language here, very accessible and detailed vistas welcomed us into a very evocative world.
This performance world’s neat excitement was awash with a myriad of colours. Smooth interest was maintained thanks to continued seamless shifts between full orchestra, the timbres of SYO’s separate instrumental groups and well-balanced solo lines pitted against the orchestra.
SYO’s playing of ‘The Gift To Be Simple’ hymn in this work was a true highlight. It grew from initial moments of sweetly chiselled intimacy through to tutti declamations of unbridled joy. This was thanks to some impressive unison focus and charismatic tracing of line.
To conclude this concert event we had a decent serving of bold and brash Beethoven as SYO gave a powerhouse rendering of his Symphony No 5. Conductor Alexander Briger ensured there was still plenty of space amidst the rocketing tempi choices of the outer movements for nice subtleties and conversation across the orchestra.
The swoop of material developed across the various sections of the orchestra was clear despite the ambitious tempo. Despite the large orchestral forces employed there was considerable buoyancy and lightness in the playing. This resulted particularly from the realisation of Beethoven’s involved sections of character contrasts within and between movements.
The unified orchestral power spoke with a contrasting strident poetic beauty throughout the less-hectic second movement of this famous symphony. This leisurely and forward-leaning Andante con moto breathed easily as it elegantly stated its famous case . Following this interlude the large orchestra was once more harnessed to launch into faster movements where it effectively expressed Beethoven’s vibrant musical shapes and brusque, complex thematic combinations.
This symphony was taken at such a keen pace its rendering would have greatly challenged a group of musicians of even much more collective experience than SYO.
However, the success and safety of this orchestra getting through the substantial work owed much to the clear and driving persistence of its chief conductor as well as some admirable section and full-orchestra leading from concertmaster Ben Tjoa.
This Beethoven performance was quite elevated and spontaneous. It was by no means a scramble despite the obvious athletic efforts and collective brave, hard work of these capable musicians. This milestone and fresh interpretation deserves repeat performances and perhaps even a chance at being recorded orbroadcast.
Here, the two large and popular landmark works of the orchestral canon were well programmed for variety and effect. They were admirably tackled by SYO, leaving us with some fine chances to revisit these key works from Copland and Beethoven and refresh our love of them.
Sydney Youth Orchestras continue to have a busy 2019. On September 21 the SYO collaborates with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Festival Chorus in a performance of the Dvorák Requiem at Sydney Opera House.