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Concert Reviews - 22 and 28 March 2015 - Horn Power

Sylvester Kroyherr - Published in Bohemian Rhapsody Club online Newsletter.

With an informative pre-concert introduction by the Conductor and Artistic Director Mark Shiell, the programme began with the initially delicate and melancholy Overture to Weber's opera "Oberon" featuring the French horns - this being the theme of the evening, namely "Horn Power". The driving central themes were energetic and uplifting, interwoven by musically sensitive romantic rhythms.

The second item featured the premiere of "A Song for Gallipoli" by George Dreyfus to commemorate the centenary of the ANZACs and set to music to a WW1 poem by British Charles Sorley who died at the front aged 20. Selena Pettifer's enchanting and pure voice captured and expressed the sombre disharmony of war. A stunning performance and presence!

Taking absolute control, Roman Ponomariov breezed into Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto No 1, displaying flawless tonality and smooth delivery. The lively and poetic first movement flowed effortlessly into the mournful and melancholy second movement. With the last movement, Roman took the audience to another level to conclude with skilful flair and excitement much to the delight of everyone, including Mark Shiell, who brought back Roman for a fabulous encore; this being the third movement of the fourth Horn Concerto by Mozart. Loved the little cadenza!

The massive Symphony No 1 by Brahms followed the interval with the orchestra generating commanding contrasts between throbbing and energetic themes and mysterious haunting passages. With some well presented staccato sections from the violins, the first movement finished majestically. In the second movement, the interplay between the strings and woodwinds was well rounded with some sweet passages from the solo violin (namely Mary Johnston). Flowing into a gentle march like rhythm in the third movement, the clarinets and the plucking of the cellos was very effective, finishing the section with bounce and sparkle. As expected, the finale began energetically which eventually built up to Brahms' so called "most noble melodies"- beautifully handled by the violins. Maintaining energetic momentum, the orchestra finished the symphony with exuberance and style.

Well done to everyone, including all the volunteers!

SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Musician/Architect) - 31 March 2015

Bronislaw Sozanski - The Local, Hepburn Shire

The Zelman Symphony Orchestra presented another delightful and entertaining concert at the Daylesford Town Hall on March 22nd. Conductor Marl Shiell continues to organise quality programmes with excellent soloists. Weber, Strauss and Brahms gave the afternoon a Teutonic feel, with a premiere Australian work commemorating the centenary of Gallipoli.

The popular overture to Weber's final opera "Oberon" opened the proceedings in a solid manner, preparing the audience for the colourful orchestration which would follow. The rhythmic energy was well maintained, while the French Horns began what was to be a prominent part in the concert.

The premiere performance of "A Song for Gallipoli", by Australian composer George Dreyfus added to the growing list of new works for this important year. Mezzo soprano Selena Pettifer brought out the pathos and tragedy of the text of Charles Hamilton Sorley, with the orchestra providing the tension and drama in a powerful statement.

Roman Ponomariov was outstanding as the soloist in the first Horn Concerto of Richard Strauss. He is a master of this challenging instrument, maintaining a glorious tone throughout and shaping the narrative in a purposeful way. The dialogue with the orchestra was always clear although the 'cello and clarinet solo lines could have been projected better. The Mozart encore completed a fine performance.

The Brahms First Symphony, a significant work by any standards, reached great heights in this performance. The harmonic tensions were fully explored and every section of the orchestra played its part. While comparisons will always be drawn with Beethoven this work stands as a post Beethoven masterpiece, with greater demands on the musicians technically and musically. The result was an outstanding success.

Bronislaw Sozanski B.A. Dip.Ed. A.T.C.L.
The Local, Hepburn Shire

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