Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Jack Liebeck, Southern Sinfonia, Elgar, Dvorák and Sibelius at the Regent

A full house at the Regent Theatre stamped and cheered the exquisite performance of the well-known and loved Dvorák Violin Concerto by guest violinist, Londoner Jack Liebeck. From the very first note, Liebeck showed great intuition and fervour in his loving interpretation of Dvorak’s distinctive rhythms, melodies and textures. This was a truly memorable performance in which full credit is due to the Southern Sinfonia whose concentration kept them in sympathy with the soloist and added greatly to the overall success of the performance. Liebeck rewarded the audience’s enthusiasm with a performance of the delicious and understatedly virtuosic “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Tarrega and arranged by Marinkovic.

Sibelius“Finlandia” is a suitably stirring work to open the evening. Its enduringly popular well-tempered nationalistic energy was well represented by the Southern Sinfonia under the baton of Australian Brett Kelly. The brass and wind sections were particularly good. Surprisingly this was only the Southern Sinfonia second presentation of the work.

Its first performance of Elgar‘s “Enigma Variations” – a surprising fact given the instant fame it awarded Elgar – was testament to the Southern Sinfonia’s growing prowess. Although the work’ fame rests with the most instantly recognizable Nimrod, the other 13 variations all create an interesting journey around a collection of spritely, impish, sombre and larger than life characters while the driving theme remains elusive – an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Kelly rewarded the audience’s enthusiasm with an encore of Elgar’s 4th “Pomp and Circumstance”. Special credit goes to the Southern Sinfonia’s wind, brass, cello and viola leaders for their solo passages.

This was an innovative programme and is a clear sign of the Southern Sinfonia’s dedication to learning new works and their ability to render them convincingly. The enthusiasm of the audience should encourage further presentations from the colonial period and indeed adventures into recent local repertoire.