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New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Soloists’ Series kicked off in Auckland on Friday night with a delightful and diverse programme that highlighted the talents of soloist American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, whose voice’s warmth and immediacy enveloped the audience, particularly in the Bizet/Shchedrin ‘Carmen Suite.’
Also outstanding was the orchestra’s controlled and austere rendition of what was perhaps the piece of the evening, Arvo Pärt’s ‘Fratres’, with its evocation of medieval musicality. A commissioned work from noted New Zealand composer and conductor Kenneth Young was debuted to acclaim from an appreciative audience.
NZSO are touring this series, with an early start time to entice the post-daylight savings audience, throughout early April, with shows in Dunedin on Tuesday and Christchurch on Wednesday, and then moving to a new set of pieces for later autumn and winter that will be must-sees in the seasonal event calendar.
For the Fallen, which will be touring the country in a series of one off shows in early May, with cellist Lynn Harrell, is likely to be my personal highlight of the musical year - Elgar’s Cello Concerto as the central piece in a trifecta that includes Mendelssohn and Schuman.
The Elgar is perhaps my best-loved work – my parents’ recording of both the Casals and the Du Pre were on high rotation during my childhood. Another must-see later in the season, as winter closes in and people begin to dream of summer’s festivals and sunshine, will be Forbidden Love, with violinist Nicola Benedetti, and some dizzingly complex Tchaikovsky.
Check out the NZSO’s 2012 season, and make your choices now – with a diverse range of soloists’, conductors’, and composers’ talents on display, there is something for everyone.
Photo by Rikki Cooke.
3 April 2012