Jubilation welcomes ups and downs of mature composition

James Judd led the full NZSO orchestra in its "Jubilation: Strauss & Shostakovich" concert on...
James Judd led the full NZSO orchestra in its "Jubilation: Strauss & Shostakovich" concert on June 13, at Dunedin Town Hall. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
NZSO, ‘Jubilation’, Dunedin Town Hall, Thursday, June 13.

Despite the cold and wet night, a dedicated audience warmly welcomed the NZSO performance "Jubilation" at the Dunedin Town Hall on Thursday.

They roundly applauded an inspired concert led by the keenly nuanced James Judd which featured new and little-known works alongside a classic from orchestra repertoire.

Two new works by New Zealanders, recognised by the Todd Young Composer in 2022, showed delightfully mature composition styles.

Henry Meng’s Fanfare was suitably bracing and complex.

In just two minutes it creates plenty to embrace and intrigue the ear.

Sai Natarajan’s We long For An Adventure asks its audience to invoke a childhood memory.

Influenced by Natarajan’s experience in film and game music, it successfully explores a surprising range of emotions from explosive passion to pastoral calm in its four minutes.

Richard Strauss’ musical comedy Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is not as well known as perhaps it should be.

With delightfully swung rhythms and fine lyric flow, it courses whimsically through aristocratic pretensions and those who aspire towards them.

Though entirely lovely, highlights include the pompous but deftly footed "Fencing Master", the finely fingered "Entry and Dance of the Tailors", and the grandly elegant "Lully’s Minuet". The concluding "Dinner" featuring the calls of the plated animals, serves to date the work.

Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony concluded the evening.

His signature juxtaposition of timpani and piccola with naive and gentle folk song remains as, if not more, relevant today as when he composed the work under Stalin’s duress.

The bassoon solo, exquisitely played, remains one of the most heart-rending portrayals of human sorrow. Its heavy tread and panicked frenzy are particularly spine-chilling when we realise that the reign of the evil among us thrives on remaining deaf to pleas for humanity.