Australian Music: Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Brisbane has been challenging Sydney and Melbourne for the title of cultural capital of Australia.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Alondra and Sergio
QPAC Concert Hall
May 23

Over the past few years Brisbane has been challenging Sydney and Melbourne for the title of cultural capital of Australia and it is making an impressive showing with its new contemporary art gallery and the range of shows in its cultural precinct. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra in particular has presented a remarkable series on concerts.

A recent concert, Alondra and Sergio featured an all-Russian concert of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky with Sergio Tiempo, the young Venezuelan pianist, playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1.

He showed an extraordinary range of playing techniques from his opening methodical and thoughtful approach through passages of dextrous lightness and then to a bruising savagery as he attacked the keys.

His one fault was his ove enthusiastic playing, which occasionally saw him almost heading off the orchestra.

The conductor for the evening was Mexican Alondra de la Parra, who Placido Domingo has described as “an extraordinary conductor.” In the second work on the programme, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade Orchestral Suite, she showed her skills not just in the guiding of the orchestra, she became part of the orchestra, responding to the music with some balletic qualities.

Also outstanding in this suite was the concertmaster Warwick Adeney who played the violin solos with a thrilling sound,

The last work on the programme was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, one of the great modern works. It shows that 100 years ago composers were inventing new ways to express ideas and emotions, reflecting changing times.

De la Parra seemed energised by the music, her body alternately rigid and pulsating, her arms and legs like pistons and she drove the orchestra through the tumultuous work.

She ensured that the abrupt changes in tempo, the changing musical dynamics and the overlapping intricate musical themes were all delivered with precision, confidence and style.

As well as MS de la Parra the orchestra will feature two other female conductors, Nicolette Fraillon and Simone Young this year. They are just a few of the more than a dozen conductors who will be leading the orchestra, such as Yan Pascal Tortelier, Johannes Fritzsch and Shlomo Mintz.

There are also some great soloists including pianist Nikolai Demidenko, Pinchas Zukerman, Sarah Chang the child prodigy who debuted on violin with the New York Philharmonic at age eight and Anna Leese, the New Zealand soprano, who will be singing with the Brisbane Chorus in the Messiah.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) chief executive Sophie Galaise says this season of famous soloists, conductors, world premieres, exclusive performances and new programmes was unprecedented.

“Never before has Queensland seen such a line-up of international stars on our Concert Hall stage in one subscription season. The world’s very best are coming to Brisbane; it has been the beginning of a new era for the QSO, one where the whole world is listening,” she said.

“To host the likes of one of the world’s greatest violinists in Maxim Vengerov, the revered cellist Mischa Maisky, Sarah Chang, Simone Young and Pinchas Zukerman, the violin phenomenon who has held title for over four decades, together in a year where we welcome Shlomo Mintz as our soloist-in-residence is extraordinary.”

Future concerts

June 19 & 20

Brahms Piano Concerto No.2 with soloist Nikolai Demidenko
Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3 Organ

Conductor Edvard Tchivzhel

August 23 & 15

Sibelius Karelia Overture
Sibelius Symphony No.7
Elgar Violin Concerto soloist Pinchas Zukerman

Conductor Rory Macdonald

September 12

Mahler Rückert Lieder Soprano Lisa Gasteen
Mahler Symphony No. 6

Conductor Simone Young