Thursday, 17 December 2009

WHEN HEAVENS COLLIDE: Western Australian Youth Orchestra & Orchestra of the Music Makers / Review

Western Australian Youth Orchestra
& Orchestra of the Music Makers
Esplanade Concert Hall
Monday (14 December 2009)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 16 December 2009.

When heavens collide, a big bang usually results. That was the intention of this joint concert that paired the best young musical outfits from Singapore and Perth, Western Australia. And the storm of high decibels began with Mars, The Bringer Of War, first movement from The Planets by Gustav Holst.

Led by master orchestra-builder Chan Tze Law (left), the gauntlet was thrown, with confident brass issuing the call to arms over an insistent rhythmic thrust that never let up. It was an impressive start that got even better with the quicksilver reflexes of Mercury, The Winged Messenger and hymn-like countenance of Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity.

Only in the slower movements was the large orchestra really challenged. Venus, The Bringer of Peace could have been a tad more tender, while Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age ached a little from its arthritic pace. However the solos shone, including concertmaster See Ian Ike’s little melodies on the violin and many others too numerous to name.

The infectious swagger of Uranus, The Magician then made way for the ethereal in Neptune, The Mystic, when voices of the Queensland Festival Chorus wafted like ghostly apparitions through the trellises behind the gallery. Perhaps a more mysterious pianissimo could have been coaxed, but the idea of extreme remoteness and an icy chill was achieved.

Peter Moore (left), better known as Uncle Peter of Babies Proms fame, then led the orchestra on two battlefronts, terrestrial and galactic. The former was an exuberant reading of the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story, one with two robust shouts of Mambo! that put the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s usually tepid attempts into the shade. Most impressive was the beautiful string sound that brought out the true pathos of the hit number Somewhere.

The latter was the much-anticipated Star Wars Suite, where John Williams’ artful depiction of celestial feuds and escapades became a little game of “spot the influence”. On the evidence of this totally enthusiastic and often entrancing performance, one may safely conclude that these young musicians will do great things with the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss, Korngold, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Walton.

Two rousing encores, a delightfully frothy transcription of Waltzing Matilda (conducted by Moore) and Elgar’s Pomp And Circumstance March No.1 (conducted by Chan), ensured that the big bangs continued late into the evening.

1 comment:

Chang Tou Liang said...

There was a sad postlude to this concert: WAYO oboist Daniel Hall was found dead in his Hong Kong hotel room on 18 December. The cause was a drug overdose. The orchestra's tour of Macau and Hong Kong had to be cancelled as a result.

Our condolences and hearts go to the family of this young talent and the WAYO.