Master Series 3. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 1 Jun 2018
In the third of the Master Series concerts for 2018, aptly (and cleverly) styled Grace and Grandeur, the Adelaide Symphony present two strikingly contrasting works – Mendelssohn’s uber-melodic Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 and Bruckner’s epic Symphony No.7 in E major.
The Mendelssohn is a delightful first course of lyricism and melody, which reaches stratospheric heights of unbridled sweetness, joy and innocence at the hands of wunderkind violinist Grace Clifford, but the Bruckner is a deeply satisfying main plate that reminds us of the fundamental potential of humanity to rise up and be noble. Under the leadership of Principal Guest Conductor Mark Wigglesworth, the Bruckner raised the spirits of the near capacity audience in the Town Hall and left them wondering why we seldom hear Bruckner in Adelaide’s concert venues.
Clifford is rapidly becoming a darling of the Australian concert platform. Not yet 20, she already has an impressive number of awards and a performance history at home and abroad. Watching her on stage is to take in a musician who is near the top of her game yet who is still on the ascendancy. Her musicianship and technical prowess is only eclipsed by her humility and apparent inner calmness. When in mid-flight it is as if she is tapping an unseen lake of musicality that is reserved for very few. Mendelssohn disliked showiness and virtuosity for its own sake, and in the testing and pacey third movement Clifford brushes the technical difficulties aside as if they don’t exist and focusses the audience’s attention squarely on the music itself. She is a vessel, and not a flashy show piece. Remarkable stuff from someone so young.
Mark Wigglesworth has a richly deserved reputation of distilling performances to their essence. His reading of the Bruckner is well paced, but the energetic tempo is never allowed to impede the clarity of the playing from the orchestra. Indeed, the horns and brass have not sounded better, and the seldom heard quartet of Wagner Tubas that features in the adagio second movement is a highlight. Bruckner’s symphonies mostly have difficult narratives in that there is not always an obvious sense of direction in which the composition is heading. Like the Mendelssohn concerto, Bruckner’s symphony throngs with lush melodies, but, unlike the concerto, the symphony indulges in itself and lyrical moments become extended ideas that lead simply to the next. Bruckner admired Wagner, and it shows. Wigglesworth masterfully ensures that each musical idea is clear and balanced in relation to what precedes and follows it, and the imagination of each and every audience member is unleashed to provide their own storyline.
This is a deeply satisfying concert. More Bruckner grandeur please, and more of Grace!
When: 1 & 2 Jun 2018
Where: Adelaide Town Hall