At the SOH

Last night to hear the SSO conducted by Charles Dutoit, whose hair is darker than ever.

It was a battle to get to the concert as the city was crowded with one and all who had come to see the last night of the “Vivid” illuminations.

In the past I have been told by an orchestra member that they were all a bit scared of Dutoit. Certainly, and particularly noticeably in the Mozart Symphony No 29 (a slightly old-fashioned performance), he elicited a higher than usual unanimity and silken refinement from the violins, guest-led by a be-sequinned Wilma Smith from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Roger Brooke retired as associate principal of the SSO. A banner was unfurled from a side box at the end of the concert which read “Farewell Roger” : I suppose he knew he was going already though the thought passed my mind that in the modern-day workplace you could conceivably receive the news from management in this fashion.

Brooke’s biography (he was a soloist in the concerto for 7 winds and percussion by Frank Martin and I guess his retirement was behind the extra special acknowledgement Dutoit gave him at the end of this) noted that he had been a pupil of John Cran, long-term principal bassoon of the SSO. That set me to thinking of the “blood-lines” of players about town: Sydney is full of Cran’s pupils (though not the remaining SSO complement); all of the present SSO oboe section other than her husband has learnt from principal Diana Doherty; the Australian flautists who have a tuitional descent from Margaret Crawford are legion, and if not Crawford, then Vernon Hill.

I particularly liked the slow movement of the Martin which features a kind of slowly treading beat which changes colour as it moves through the orchestra.

Paul Terracini, brother of Winston and Lyndon, was slipped in as third trumpet in the Saint-Saens Organ symphony. It was a rousing rendition. To my own taste the last movement was a bit heartless, but I think that’s the piece rather than the performance.

Beforehand I picked up a cheap ticket to Monday night’s concert to be given by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. It looks as though somebody is about to lose a bit of money on this – the prices I was quoted were appreciably lower than those set out in the special brochure still on display near the box office, and I gained the impression that there are still plenty of tickets. I hope my weekend work commitments will let me go: I especially want to hear Schumann’s Rhenish symphony.

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