Miracles and Triumphs (Western Australian Symphony Orchestra)
Nearly full audiences at the Perth Concert Hall on Friday welcomed Johannes Fritzsch back to the West, his first visit since conducting Janáček Cunning little vixen for the West Australian Opera in 2018.
The title “Miracle” given to Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 was given to a chandelier falling from the ceiling of the concert hall when it premiered in London in 1791, but apparently without injury to any member of the audience. Hence ‘The Miracle’. As one of 12 “London” symphonies composed by Haydn during his extended stay in the English capital, Symphony No. 96 retains undoubted popular appeal, as do all London symphonies.
Haydn’s description of “father of the symphony” is not surprising given his development of the symphony and establishing the model upon which classical music would be based for over a century. Humorous, melodious and elegant, with primordial balance and proportions, these symphonies are considered to be some of his finest works.
The delicate opening Andante leading to the Allegro was treated with care by Fritzsch. The Allegro, with delicate string details and well-contrasted dynamics gave the concert an energetic start. Following this, the Andante took on an elegant and smooth tempo, capturing the many charming moments of the symphony. However, the softly played first and second violin solos needed more presence within the tutti ensemble.
The bold opening of the Minuet preceded the Allegro, with an expressive and sensitive oboe playing. A discreet look Strongly with a general good humor maintained by a smiling Fritzsch, obviously enjoying his rapport with the orchestra, kept the momentum going until the final note.
Schumann considered his Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra as one of his best achievements as a composer. It can rightly be described as a concerto, with the traditional fast-slow-fast pattern, and thematically related movements.
Schumann considered 1839 his most successful year, just after his “year of song” in 1840. In 1839 he composed three works for the French horn, but despite the overall excellence of this song. Konzertstück this is not a regular feature in concert halls. Perhaps the virtuoso demands of the horn quartet discourage programmers? WASO audiences weren’t disappointed with the horn played on Friday night. The quartet composed of David Evans, Julia Brooke, Robert Gladstones and Francesco Lo Surdo presented an accomplished ensemble in this stimulating work.
The dramatic and lively opening of the fanfare-like theme grabs the listener’s attention, with the level of terrifying range proving no challenge to Evans’ first horn. A beautiful contrasting midsection demonstrated the soft tone of the soloists before moving on to the second lyrical movement Romanze. The warm-toned cello section with oboe established this movement, with the orchestral sound demonstrating the richness of Schumann’s writing. The slow tempo was carefully observed, but without a heavy feeling. The trumpet calls herald the lively rhythmic third movement with only a brief, relaxing middle section for the horns before concluding with what can only be described as a hyper energetic finish and a clear, disciplined ensemble within the quartet. The ensemble was tightly controlled by Fritzsch, allowing a well-judged balance between the quartet and the full orchestra.
There has never been a truer description of the players “who have the chops” for the job – the description of a musician to get a job well and truly prepared. The score statement in the finale: “Bravery to the end” has never been truer! An uplifting Konzertstück, gave a welcome performance in the Perth Concert Hall.
From a relatively unknown concert work to one of the world’s best-known symphonies, the overture being the best-known musical motif in Western classical music – Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. It almost became a musical rite of passage for musicians – “where were you when you heard Beethoven 5 for the first time?”
The first performance in 1808 was paired with the Sixth Symphony and was coldly received – literally – in December in the icy Theater an der Wien. A subsequent performance over a year later received enthusiastic review from writer ETA Hoffmann, “… every thoughtful listener … will be powerless to step out of this marvelous spiritual realm where sorrow and joy embrace him. in the form of sound “.
The challenge for the orchestra is to grasp the various characters of this opening motif – triumphant or disturbing, the theme shifting from section to section, at different pitches and different dynamic levels.
The first four notes were taken at a steady pace leading to what might be described as a careful reading of the Allegro. Fritzsch kept the tempo sure throughout this movement with strings sometimes lacking overall clarity. The gentle opening of the Andante continued with a delicately phrased woodworking, before the interruption of the brass band, well balanced with the full ensemble, a detail often overlooked. The mysterious opening of the Scherzo contained the well-defined four-note motif of the first movement. Fast string passages in this section require careful execution. Fritzsch maintained careful control of the final Allegro, starting with vigor, but keeping a close eye on this movement marked forte or fortissimo from start to finish. The orchestra has worked hard to create the jubilant mood and fierce energy that carries over to the final note of this great work, proving why Beethoven 5 is considered one of the most famous symphonies in the world, always warmly received by the public.
Western Australian Symphony Orchestra to perform Miracles and triumphs again on Saturday 27 November at 7:30 p.m.