Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Sydney 2008 – 3

Tonight for the third consecutive and final night of hearing the TSO at Angel Place.

The program was:

MOZART Symphony No.35, K385, Haffner
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto
MOZART Symphony No.41, K551, Jupiter

Kolja Blacher was the soloist and of course Sebastian Lang-Lessing was the conductor.

I enjoyed the concert, except when my repose was invaded in the middle of the last movement of the “Jupiter” by furious cogitation about the man (curse him!) responsible for my unpleasant court experience on Friday and with whom I will still have to deal further – a solicitor who has been struck off and gaoled for fraud (and that’s just the half of it) who is now claiming that I dishonestly lied to him. Uneasy lies the head that wears the wig. Actually, it was just a notice of motion so I was unrobed. Enough of that.

True, there was some fast violin figuration in the last movement of the “Haffner” which sounded decidedly scrappy. Some exposed cello moments were not up to the mark (others have been fine). It took a little while for the first movement of the Mendelssohn to gell. Perhaps the slow movement could have been even quieter and more rapt, but then I was so close that nothing could be too quiet other than the soloist, owing to my spot – OK for the piano and the orchestra but with no line of sight to the S-holes of of the violin soloist except when he turned right around to face the principal violin. 

The audience responded most warmly to the Mendelssohn. My own favourite, inevitably, was the muted-violin slow movement in the “Jupiter.” All 15 violins (8/7) used old-style wooden mutes, seemingly a matching set.

This is my second “Jupiter” this year.  The first was the SSO conducted by Dutoit.  The SSO’s playing was better and their players of a higher standard (that’s a statement of averages of course) and the interpretation more polished (though less authentic), but the TSO’s performance also had its own attractions which in some ways made for a more vivid experence.

And that is one reason why I hope the TSO will be back.  I like to hear them play and I especially like to hear a smallish orchestra like this in a small hall. The problem, as ever, is the economics.

The house was by no means full or even half full on the levels which were open, but it felt more like a real audience then either Thursday (beefed up by the private function from the Tourist Commission) or Friday.  Obviously, there were lots of relatives and freebies there.  I even met a number of fomer teachers and a conductor of the suburban youth orchestra in which one of the cellists had played in Sydney in his youth – so obviously the call had gone out far to find bums on seats.  

Yvonne Frindle has suggested that the disappointing attendances can in part be put down to the “collective wisdom” of audiences to snub an under-rewarding program.  That’s my paraphrase.  But the key is in that term “unrewarding.”  I didn’t find the concerts unrewarding, but how rewarding something is is a matter of degree, and in prospect in particular, a very important part of that is price. And here’s the telling fact: this concert was sold out in its B-reserve tickets – not that there were very many of them – only the seats at the side of the orchestra (though not along the side of the hall) and in the back two rows only of the far gallery.  I know this because a young friend who arrived to buy a ticket tonight was told that – and you could see it, too from where people were sitting.  My friend bought an A-reserve seat – not much better than my cheap seat, except that it had a more frontal aspect for the violin concerto.  Meanwhile, you will remember, they couldn’t give away the other tickets, though they gave away plenty.  Is that a ridiculous holdout, or what?  It makes me seethe. He is of an age and a means (just a year or so out of uni) that he could just as easily have turned around and gone home rather than pay that price.

So my advice to the TSO (presumptuous of me, I know) is: if you are coming back to Sydney, don’t listen to what Angel Place or whoever is presently advising you is telling you.  Certainly, don’t think you can charge more in Sydney than you charge in Hobart or Launceston or wherever.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  There you are their orchestra and the only one they’ve got.  Here, for whatever reason and with whatever justification (this is no time for pride or dignity – not until an audience is found) a lot of people are going to think the less of you because you are “just” the TSO – a small orchestra from a small state.  The market has spoken and it has said that the cheap seats are about the right price, but obviously the other seats are not, and not by a long chalk.

2 Responses to “Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Sydney 2008 – 3”

  1. Victor Says:

    Just out of interest…and I’m not taking the mickey here…is there a legal concept of ‘dishonestly lied’ and if so does that mean there is a concept of ‘honestly lied’ too?

  2. marcellous Says:

    Smart thinking, Victor. Lying is dishonest. To be dishonest you have to be either lying or reckless as the the truth.

    “Dishonestly lied” doesn’t add anything legally, but that is the accusation. It’s a claim based on what I am said to have said on behalf of my client in the course of a conciliation session by stating my opinion of the terms of a legal document.

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