Master Series 1: The Adventure Begins

ASO 2020 Master Series 1 The Adventure BeginsAdelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 8 Feb 2020


With its majestic and upbeat opening fanfare, Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Op.96 impressively proclaims the opening of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 season and exhorts Adelaide audiences to “create a space for music”! The adventure begins, and what a beginning it is!


The Festive Overture, along with Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, Op.35 (which closed out the concert), both provide ample opportunity for the various principals in the orchestra to shine, and they do! Principal clarinet Dean Newcombe is in sparkling form in the Shostakovich, and almost every principal has their moment in the spotlight at various times throughout the Rimsky-Korsakov. Special kudos goes to concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto who played the pivotal violin solos in Scheherazade, and it was fitting that at the end of the concert guest conductor Hendrik Vestmann gave Yoshimoto first acknowledgement. This is her final season with the Adelaide Symphony, and every concert in which she performs is to be savoured.


Vestmann’s approach to the entire program is one of precise articulation, in which every dynamic change is used to great effect, and every pause and briefest moment of silence is an emphatic musical statement itself. Scheherazade, always an audience favourite, was delivered with excitement and style. His enunciated approach to the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D, Op.35, featuring Grace Clifford on violin, is almost unexpected, but it works, and Clifford echo’s Vestmann’s precision but not in a studied or stifled way. Clifford injects great feeling into her interpretation of this much loved concerto (even though it was abhorred on debut), and the results are astonishing. Her playing is firm and technically precise, but it has heart and is not restrained. She appears ‘delicate’ on the concert stage, almost awkward – she always has – but deep within rages musical passion and understanding that results in extended periods of absolute harmonious beauty. This performance sees Clifford raise the stakes a notch – she is still in the ascendant and her next appearance with the Adelaide Symphony is eagerly anticipated!


A great start to the season! The next Master Series concert will feature Yoshimoto playing the Brahms Violin Concerto on April 3 and 4. Not to be missed.


Kym Clayton


When: 8 Feb

Where: Adelaide Town Hall

Bookings: Closed