Review of Dunedin Youth Orchestra

Review of Dunedin Youth Orchestra at the Glenroy 13 September 2006

Farquhar: "Ring Around the Moon"

A near capacity audience was spell bound by the Youth Orchestra's performance of the Dvorak Symphony No 8 this Wednesday evening. All the movements were played with a great sense of unity, purpose and energy from all sections of the orchestra. Especially wonderful was the cello opening of "Allegro con Brio", the woodwind section in their otherwise exposed melodies the "Adagio" and the brass in the "Allegro non troppo" It was a splendid closing item and testament to the orchestra's skills under David Burchell's inspired direction.

David Farquhar's "Ring Around the Moon" which opened the programme is a quirky chromatic set of dances. Unfortunately, the spirit of the "Tango" dissipated into wistful piquancy, the "Polka" intentionally or not, had gumboots on, while the "Waltz" exposed some insecurity in the strings. On a brighter note, "Two-step" brought to life a Broadway spirit which won spontaneous applause. An English sounding "Introduction and Waltz" capped by a vivacious "Finale" was beautifully expressive.

Kiarash Taghavi in possibly his debut as a solo artist with the orchestra, played the "Scene de Ballet Fantaisie" written by De Beriot in 1855. De Beriot is known for his Paganini-like virtuosity, unconventional playing technique and sensuous lyricism. Perhaps all this proved too much for Taghari on the night. After a dramatic and promisingly strong opening, the bowing became too light to carry the weight of the melodic line. Nevertheless, there were sufficient and promising moments of brilliance to suggest that Taghavi should take heart for future performances.

"On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring" by Delius, here a beautiful but moody and slightly melancholic season, was delightfully articulate.

Peter Chin, noting the high success rate of all Dunedin Youth Orchestra's performers, presented the annual Young Musicians Award to John Roxburgh, viola, and Michael Crawford, clarinet, to popular acclaim.

The heating system in the Glenroy poses ongoing problems for audience and players alike, and perhaps chromatic music remains, like a fine whisky, an acquired taste. However, after 35 years and some 500 musicians, community support for a continuing, here pleasantly familial symphonic event is as strong as ever. The orchestra remains in fine fettle.