Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 31 Mar 2017
Silver and Gold was the first in the ASO’s Master Series for 2017, and it showcased three composers who made for interesting (programming) bedfellows: Johan Strauss II (Emperor Waltz, Op.437), Erich Korngold (Violin Concerto in D, Op.35), and Johannes Brahms (Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73). Strauss and Brahms were contemporaries of each other, but their music couldn’t be more different. They both died towards the end of the 19th century when Korngold was born, and his music was different again.
Despite the diversity of the programme, a common feature was intense and immensely gratifying melody which was expertly wrought from the mighty ASO by English guest conductor Mark Wigglesworth. The audience warmed to Wigglesworth from the very first bars of the Strauss and heads could be seen bobbing throughout the Adelaide Town Hall in time to Wigglesworth’s three-four beating that only yielded occasionally to the schmaltzy parts of the composition.
One has never before heard Korngold’s Violin Concerto, and probably like many other concertgoers, is more familiar with Korngold’s film scores, such as his Academy Award nominated score The Sea Hawk. Composed in 1945, and first performed in 1947 by Jascha Heifetz, the violin concerto was dedicated to Alma Mahler, the widow of the great Gustav Mahler, who had done so much to encourage him as a child prodigy. It begins immediately with the violin and soon quotes from Korngold’s earlier film scores Another Dawn and Juarez. Akiko Suwanai was the soloist and beautifully handled the luscious and lyrical melodies.
Wigglesworth and the ASO avoided mawkishness in their disciplined yet emotional reading of Brahm’s second symphony. The performance was unfussed and the lyrical moments seemed to evolve and emerge rather than being declaimed.
The large audience left very satisfied and was humming numerous tunes.
When: 31 Mar
Where: Adelaide Town Hall