Review of Dunedin Youth Orchestra

Review Echoes of Home, NZSO, 5 April 2013

A near full house cheered exceptionally good performances of works from the late nineteenth and the mid twentieth century which mark the opening of a new season from the NZSO under the inspired and inspiring direction of Pietari Inkinen and concert master Vesa-Matti Leppaenen. The Orchestra produces a tight sound, crisp, accurate and sublime. The title “Echoes of Home” refers to each of the composers’ situations at the time of composing the three works and of the dominant feature of the period in which many people migrated out of Europe. Guest cellist Daniel Mueller-Schott played Dvorak’s well-loved Cello Concerto in B minor (1894) with great passion and made it the triumph of the night. The work celebrates Dvorak’s nostalgia for his homeland and the fact that his experience of America inspired many of his greatest works. The audience at the Regent were launched into a world of grandeur and sublimity and emerged exalted by Mueller-Schott’s performance. Particularly excellent moments included the duet between first violin and cello and the conversation the cello shares with the wind. Mueller-Schott treated the audience with an encore of Ravel’s delightful “Habanera” from which he wrung every tenderness. This is virtuosity at its highest. Pruden’s “Soliolquy for strings” opened the evening. Written in 1944 and revised in 1947 under Lilburn’s tutorage it has a well-deserved and secure place in local repertoire. Its rich textures, lamenting lines, jazz inflections and affiliations to Stravinsky mark the influences at play in New Zealand at the time. The final work of the night, Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” written in 1941, is also well-known and well-loved. Its grand opening heralds a spritely journey through a slightly disjointed waltz, and endearing yet vigorous dances, lyrical solos and astringent melodies. It enthralled the audience and provided a wonderful climax to the evening. Marian Poole