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Dunedin Town Hall
Tuesday, October 13
REVIEWED BY MARIAN POOLE
A near capacity audience gave the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under Hamish McKeich a warm welcome for its return to the Dunedin Town Hall stage with a programme that was aptly titled "Metamorphosis".
We are proud to be able to have re-emerged with new awareness of our mortal fragility. We also acknowledge the NZSO for supplying free programmes.
Richard Strauss composed Metamorphosen to encapsulate the mixed emotions engendered by the end of World War 2, a period of global disaster potentially parallel to 2020.
The 23 string players are effectively soloists with independent but related parts requiring intense concentration.Their melodies create intricate but dense texture that is constantly evolving and thoroughly enveloping.
The whole speaks highly effectively to the mixed emotions that cataclysmic events inspire. The NZSO did its languid, slow crescendo and ultimately its subdued sense of awe true justice.
Strauss’ Four Last Songs received an equally impressive performance by soprano Emma Pearson.
Her rich mellifluous voice gave the songs a new depth. Though at times her lines sank below those of the orchestra, her dramatic portrayal has created a new peak in the performance history of this work.
She richly deserves the rapturous applause and multiple curtain calls she received from the audience.
The second half of the programme was devoted to Beethoven’s Eroica. Aptly programmed in that we need to celebrate all our victories.
It is famed for its length and while at times it was unable to maintain its audience’s full concentration, NZSO’s performance, right from the statuesque opening chords, was successfully momentous.
The work explores the full gamut of human emotions, from the funereal to galloping folk dance frivolity.
Particularly delightful was the F minor fugue in the second movement, Marche Funebre, when McKeich pulled out all stops to create a deep forbidding reverberation from the double basses and cellos.
A glorious evening of excellent performances by all.