I have been immersed in a family feud for most of the past month.  Not my own family or feud, though it sometimes feels like it: one of the opposing parties managed to call me a shit when that party was actually in the witness box – sotto voce  so unfortunately not picked up in the transcript.

In between, I have managed to squeeze in:

Mahler Chamber Orchestra – 10 June

I picked up this ticket at the budget price of $35 on the Saturday for the Monday of the long weekend.  This was less than the previously advertised price and it was evident tickets had been slow to shift.  There were the tell-tale free-list signs of musicians from every ensemble in town as well as many youthful orchestral musicians and in the second half I improved my seat to sit next to a freelancer who told me that when in Europe he had played with the orchestra.  Even so, the back half of the circle was practically empty.

That’s a pity as the concert was excellent.  Christian Tetzlaff gave a brilliant performance of the Beethoven violin concerto, including a striking cadenza with timpani obbligato inspired (it seems) by Beethoven’s later arrangement of this concerto for piano and orchestra.  When the orchestra dug in their string sound was particularly gutsy.  The trumpeters played early-music trumpets. I’m glad I sat close for Brett Dean’s Testament, which featured some extremely quiet sounds (as you might expect in a piece whose program was Beethoven’s deafness).  The Schumann Rhenish Symphony lived up to expectations: my improved seat in the rear stalls gave better balance but at the price of the smallish orchestra becoming bathed in the hall’s acoustic.  Apart from the Beethoven, the highlight of the program was the encore – the slow movement of the New World Symphony, due to be played the next night in what overall (given Australia’s lack of allegiance to Schumann) was probably the more popular and I expect better-attended concert.

SSO – Dutoit – Stravinsky – Steinbacher – Mendelssohn – 15 June

This really was a packed concert – Rite of Spring and the violin concerto with The Song of the Nightingale thrown in.  Once again the SSO rose to Dutoit’s standards and to the extent that I wasn’t bowled over by Steinbacher it was probably only because of the impact Tetzlaf had made on me only days before.  I have nothing more detailed to say about this concert because the intervening feuding blur has blunted my recollection, so this is really just for the record.

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