Adelaide Town Hall. 27 Apr 2012
Maestro Volmer’s programming for the second of the ASO’s Master Series was intensely satisfying. It was a full-on eastern- European spectacular, featuring the music of Kodály, Bartók and Stravinsky. Russian and Hungarian concert music has a different feel about it than the music of the (arguably) more dominant western European composers: the rhythms are more complex, and changeable, and the melody line is often disjunctive. These make for a different listening experience: the traditional structure of exposition-development-variation is often less discernible and can appear as a sequence of what might be called ‘three minute grabs’.
The ‘grabs’ in the symphonic poem Summer Evening are luscious, and Volmer extracted an aural feast from the woodwinds. Bartók’s very challenging Piano Concerto No.2 tested the ASO, and they were not found wanting, but their success was mostly due to the bravura and technical mastery of French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet who wowed the audience with his charisma, musicality, command, and deep understanding of the piece. It seemed at times there were two conductors on stage–Bavouzet and Volmer–seamlessly transferring control backwards and forwards between themselves. A true partnership. The program concluded with an exuberant reading of Stravinksy’s Petrushka ballet suite, and the brass, percussion and piano were especially fine.
Where: Adelaide Town Hall