Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Southern Sinfonia and soloists at King’s and Queen’s on Sunday 6 May

A full house gave enthusiastic applause for a predominantly classical programme from the Southern Sinfonia and soloists. Under the direction of guest conductor Benjamin Northey, the Southern Sinfonia displayed a high degree of energy and most importantly conveyed a sense of enjoyment. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto sprinted along with suitably jolly and Germanic glee. Though it makes a good opening to a programme, the work requires stamina and concentration. Unfortunately both were lacking in the violins while that important notion of playing to the same beat seemed lost on a few. Cornish’s performance of Mozart’s Oboe Concerto was, however, a source of pleasure. Taken at an up-tempo pace, the work gained new brightness. Cornish achieved an excellent bright tone and gave a witty and sensitive interpretation of the nuances in the melodic ebb and flow. His cadences were successive extrapolations on Mozart’s language. Luca Manghi also gave a delightful performance of Nielsen’s Flute Concerto (1926). It seems a difficult work to interpret. While Nielsen produces some truly beautiful melodic and harmonic moments, and is capable of being equally impish and sincere, the work suffers from being too fragmented. The desire to follow the melody and hear a story unfold is frustrated. Schubert’s Fifth Symphony was also performed at a good pace with infectious enjoyment. As the final work of the programme it soothes and calms with delightful cadences.

In all a pleasant programme, but, if one may make bold, Schubert and Mozart, who both make regular appearances courtesy of the Southern Sinfonia, could be likened to the (Sir) Cliff Richard and (Sir) Elton John. They fill the house and we know what to expect and for the most part are not disappointed. However, this is New Zealand Music Month and an important opportunity to celebrate our own composers alongside our own performers has been lost.