Gomez and virtuoso Mintz thrill audience

Elizabeth Bouman
Elizabeth Bouman
Dunedin Symphony Orchestra was in fine form on Saturday evening for its concert in Dunedin Town Hall. 

Spanish conductor Jose Luis Gomez, on his first visit to Dunedin, and the return of legendary virtuosic violinist Shlomo Mintz is indicative of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s present standard of musical proficiency. If it were not so, esteemed international musicians such as these would not regularly travel so far south in the world to perform with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

Aotearoa Overture (1940) written by New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn while studying at Royal college of Music in London, is a potage of pictorial themes, and the orchestra settled quickly as Gomez drew an impressive, colourful interpretation of this popular concert overture.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Op.35 was composed in 1878 in Switzerland, where he had travelled to "escape" from a doomed marriage of nine weeks. 

Mintz immediately captivated his audience, enthralling with virtuosic delivery for this popular work.

Every aspect of his playing appeared so effortlessly controlled, with each recurring thematic entry lovingly revisited, and riveting candenzi with subject matter fragments always discernible. 

The orchestra rose to the occasion splendidly. The second movement was especially glorious, with woodwinds and horn deserving mention. Particularly noticeable was Gomez’s skill in creating seamless transitions of dialogue between soloist and orchestra, and overall instrumental balance. A much stronger and full-powered symphonic blend was required after the interval for the colour and contrast of Symphony No.7 Op.70  (1885) by Anton Dvorak. 

This was certainly achieved in Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s premiere performance of this symphony, again with commendable woodwind and horn highlights. 

Impressive clarity of thematic sections in the second movement was maintained throughout legato extremes, contrasting with fast-moving and agitated passages of the following  Scherzo, and the final victorious Allegro brought several minutes of strong acclamation from the well-filled auditorium. 

- Elizabeth Bouman


Shlomo Mintz plays Tchaikovsky

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Dunedin Town Hall, April 14

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