Cond. Dene Olding
Art Gallery of W.A
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Fine wine and the opportunity to view a retrospective exhibition of Howard Taylor’s idiosyncratic artworks before repairing to the atrium of the Art Gallery of W.A.to listen to the W.A.Symphony Orchestra in works by Mozart, Beethoven and Sculthorpe proved an irresistible attraction for aficionados of art, music and the grape. They thronged the gallery, many with wine goblets in hand and filled every seat at this most civilised of entertainments.
Once again, we heard Alan Dodge (director of the gallery) introduce the concert at some length, followed by the appearance of guest conductor and soloist Dene Olding who also felt the need to address the audience. Wondering whether, after this second speech, we would have to listen to a third, and possibly, fourth speaker – perhaps one of the security guards expounding on his line of work or possibly a little talk on the gallery’s air conditioning system (followed, of course, by throwing the floor open for questions from the captive audience) – it was relief to see Olding raise his baton and finally get on with the main business of the evening as he took the orchestra through Sculthorpe’s Sonata for Strings No 3.
Subtitled Jabiru Dreaming (which is a reworking for string orchestra of an earlier string quartet), it was less
convincingly essayed than the Mozart symphony that followed it so that one wondered whether sufficient rehearsal time had been devoted to the Sculthorpe work.
At times, there was a tentative, hesitant quality on the part of the players with caution taking precedence over confidence of exposition. It made for rather unsettling listening – but I liked the cello solo which introduces the second movement – and the simulations of bird twitterings and didgeridoos that dot the score were convincingly
managed and brought a strong sense of place to the proceedings.
As always, Mozart’s Prague Symphony enchanted the ear. If ever there was music fit to accompany the opening of the doors of heaven, it is this. And for the most part, its gloriously developed ideas were confidently and stylishly expounded in a manner that allowed them to register to fine effect on the consciousness.
Woodwind chording was less than immaculate, though, notably in the adagio that ushers in the first movement. But the wind players redeemed themselves in the finale where its contributions to tutti utterances were impressive. Joel Marangella played the oboe beautifully. Horns were on form, too.
Another concert in this deligthful series – Haydn Snaps – takes place at the gallery on 24th July. Violinist Barbara Jane Gilby will preside over performances of Handel and Haydn. Sara Macliver will be the soprano soloist.
Purchase your tickets early. These events are invariably sell-outs.
Copyright 2004 Neville Cohn