Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Sydney 3

Tonight for the third and last time this year to Angel Place to hear the TSO.  The program was:

Mendelssohn: Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture
Chopin: Piano Concerto No 2 (actually his first) and
Mendelssohn: “Reformation” Symphony No 5 (actually his second).

The house was better than Friday, though still healthily leavened with comps and relatives.  A friend claimed he could spot the Poles, who had presumably turned out for the Chopin.

Ewa Kupiec played the Chopin competently, though without quite the hairpin crescendo sparkle at the top of decorative figures which I think can add the necessary elan to Chopin: this is a hard thing to reduce to words, but I could have done with a bit more of Chopin’s Roman nose.  I thought her choice of encore (Schumann’s “The Poet Speaks”) rather odd.

I enjoyed the Reformation Symphony.  It gets better after the first movement, though my favour for the Scottish was not dislodged. 

Afterwards (drinks and light refreshments were served) I buttonholed Mr Lang-Lessing (the conductor) and gave him a (polite, I hope) earbashing, particularly about the publicity for the concerts.  As one of the few people to go to all three concerts, I felt qualified to do this, and he didn’t appear to resent it.  Mr Lang-Lessing commented that the Sydney Symphony had not been helpful, and I can well believe that.  This is one of the downsides of the dismantling of Symphony Australia and the corporatisation of the individual orchestras – that now (even though the TSO is only here for three nights) they jealously guard their own turf. 

I also mentioned my reservations about next year’s drive to the lowest common denominator with a surfeit of Mozart (which I presume to have been marketing-driven).  Mr Lang-Lessing let slip that he had wanted to do Schubert, which would indeed have been much more consistent with the orchestra’s presentation of itself as an early Romantic orchestra, and also the logical place to go after last year’s Schumann/Beethoven and this year’s Mendelssohn/Chopin. 

I am keen for the TSO to keep coming to Sydney.  In the Australian classical music scene, the different states might as well be continents apart, for all the artistic interchange which occurs between them, and some relief from orchestral monoculture is surely welcome.  However, I am seriously concerned that, unless they can make a better fist of it, the TSO will not be able to maintain their present loss-leading streak.

3 Responses to “Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Sydney 3”

  1. Thom Says:

    The SSO’s ‘unhelpfulness’ was no doubt complemented by the TSO’s determination to visit Sydney during what must have been one of the busiest months in Sydney concert life this year, and directly clashing with the visit of Sir Charles Mackerras. A mutual discussion of dates (which I’ve been told did not really occur) may have indicated that there were other – better – times for the TSO to tour, during which the home orchestra might well have been in a position to be more helpful.

    It may be that there is blame to be pinned on both sides. Nonetheless, I’d agree wholeheartedly that ‘This is one of the downsides of the dismantling of Symphony Australia and the corporatisation of the individual orchestras…’

    One of the most ‘helpful’ ways for the symphony orchestras to tour nationally is when they appear in the home orchestra’s subscription series, e.g. the WASO’s visit to Sydney in the 90s. (Often occurring when the home orchestra is on tour elsewhere, not necessarily a direct exchange.) A guaranteed audience base and no competing orchestral concert activity are the obvious benefits. But that kind of thing requires a level of cooperation and coordination that it probably pretty difficult to achieve nowadays, and in the case in question it doesn’t fit with the TSO’s wanting to make Sydney an annual destination.

  2. marcellous Says:

    Next year the SSO will be out of town when the TSO come, so perhaps greater helpfulness will prevail. I think swapping orchestras and publics would work between the MSO and the SSO; I’ve not been so impressed when the SSO has foisted the AYO on its subscriber audience. As you say, the whole point for the TSO is to find another audience here of its own, not simply to swap its Tasmanian audience for the SSO’s Sydney one. Nor would I be so keen to hear the TSO in the Concert Hall.

    As for “helpfulness” between ensembles, the issue must be whether there is really only a limited public over which the ensembles must squabble for their share, or whether, working together, they could make the cake bigger for everyone.

    Finally, I agree that it has been a spectacularly busy month: I could only make room for the TSO by swapping to different nights for the Mackerras/Strauss/Mozart and for Tannhäuser, and after seeing Don John of Austria (which was itself over-priced and scandalously under-sold by the SSO, by the way) I had to pass on Haydn’s The Creation.

  3. Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra coming to Sydney « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] I have mentioned before, I would have preferred a little less Mozart and something else more interesting, but doubtless […]

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