Firebird ASO 2018 Master Series 9Master Series 9. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 2 Nov 2018


The ninth in this year’s Master Series concert comprised a satisfying Mozart/Bruch/Stravinsky sandwich, but it would be too easy to suggest that the Bruch ‘filling’ was the main fare. Yes, Natsuko Yoshimoto’s performance of Bruch’s celebrated Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor borders on the sublime, and the orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s Symphony No.35 in D, ‘Haffner’ is refined and elegant, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite is as exhilarating as it should be, but there was also something else happening.


The glue that holds it all together and allows the character of each piece to shine through with penetrating clarity is the American conductor Karina Canellakis. Only in her mid-thirties and making her Australian debut, Canellakis is relatively new to the conductor’s podium but has already signalled she is one to watch with her thoughtful yet expressive readings.


The Andante second movement of the Mozart and the Adagio second movement of the Bruch were highlights, with superb phrasing and sensible dynamics. Yoshimoto elicited tonally pure pianissimo notes while Canellakis ensured complementary balance from the orchestra.


At the tender age of twenty-seven, The Firebird was Stravinksy’s first large-scale work for orchestra. Conceived as a ballet, it was updated several times (partly so that Stravinsky could enjoy asserting copyright after it was stolen away from him by by the communist USSR government). The 1945 orchestral suite version, as performed, has ever since been considered an almost indispensable item of the repertoire, and it is no wonder. It is bold, brash, exciting, melodic, and sensitive. It gives the opportunity for all sections of the orchestra to shine through, and at the end Canellakis takes the time to share the kudos with every section of the orchestra, with special mention to the horns and woodwind.


Indeed, many an audience member could be heard humming the foremost horn melody line as they left the Town Hall into the balmy spring evening.


Kym Clayton


When: 2 Nov

Where: Adelaide Town Hall

Bookings: Closed

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