Fantastic Symphony

Fantastic Symphony Master 9 ASO 2016Master 9. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 2 Dec 2016


The programme was named after the main item on the bill – Symphonie fantastique, Op 14 by Hector Berlioz – but the whole thing was fantastic! The programme also included an ASO Adelaide premiere performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Le tombeau resplendissant and Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 47.


Messiaen is not everyone’s cup of tea and his best-known and most frequently played work is Quartet for the End of Time which was written when he was a prisoner of the Nazis in WWII. Le tombeau resplendissant is however for a full orchestra and is written in a grand style and showcases numerous instruments, especially the wood wind. Maestro Nicholas Carter conducted without a baton and the tension was evident in his hands as he elicited the closely packed harmonies and intricate rhythms from the orchestra.


Grace Clifford is still an Aussie teenager and the world of the violin and the concert platform is very much her oyster. In 2014, at the age of 16, she won the ABC Young Performer of the Year award and she has never looked back. Her performance of the Sibelius violin concerto this evening was sublimely understated, and demonstrated her (and Carter’s) deep understanding of the Finnish master’s symphonic intent. Clifford and Carter combined beautifully to allow the solo violin and orchestra to complement each other and not to compete. Clifford’s virtuosity and technical competence ensured that the piece constantly pointed beyond its often-dispiriting melodies to something more hopeful.


Carter was at his best with the Berlioz. Full of wonderful melodies, Carter ensured that the lightness that had been achieved in the Sibelius carried over into the Berlioz. The temptation to load the more recognisable and well-loved melodies with misguided heaviness was rejected, and instead the brightness and often gentleness of the musical colours was evident, especially in the second movement waltz section, in which Suzanne Handel and Carolyn Burgess were excellent on harp. In the adagio third movement the musicality of both Geoffrey Collins (flute) and Dean Newcomb (clarinet) was marked, and the entire brass section, in the allegretto non troppo fourth movement, was at their best.


This was another satisfying concert from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, but I don’t want either the Sibelius or the Berlioz that were both last heard in 2012 to be repeated any time soon!


Kym Clayton


When: 2 Dec

Where: Adelaide Town Hall

Bookings: Closed

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