Review: Opus Orchestra – Born in the USA (Rotorua)

WHERE: DESTINY CHURCH THEATRE, ROTORUA

WHEN: SATURDAY 20 JULY 2019

The orchestra started the 2019 season in fine fashion with ‘Born in the USA’, a programme which contrasts music with American links and traditional compositions.

Conductor Peter Walls had chosen works which made the concert gratifying to both players and audience. Robert Schumann’s ‘Overture, Scherzo and Finale’, a weighty work and built on a symphonic scale, was appealing for its vitality and a greater sense of purpose than is usually found in Romantic pieces.   

It is a sign of the prestige of Opus and its conductor that they can attract artists of high calibre as soloists, such as the tenor Simon O’Neill and the young Russian cellist Lev Sivkov. Sivkov was the soloist here in Barber’s brisk and beautiful Cello Concerto, where his steely tones, charged playing and musical precision gave the performance rare musical intensity.  ‘Postcards from Eden’, is a vivid account by the New Zealand composer Chris Adams of his strained experience at Los Angeles International Airport.  Evocative and strident sounds from the woodwind and brass sections expressed his feelings while waiting there for 10 hours, and it effective typified the notorious disorder at the airport. 

Rich turbulence in Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 makes it the most ruffle-rousing of such works. Peter Walls’s embracing style of direction kept up the momentum well, while successfully melding the complexity of the music with ornamentation of the instruments.

Hanno Fairburn    

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