Thursday 29th March

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra – Director: William Hennessy

Three cheers for the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra! It takes something special to make the well-worn favourites glitter once again and this group, with their program of Mozart and Beethoven, was out to do just that.

Beethoven’s Triple Concerto is certainly something of an odd beast, demanding a chamber music feel from both the soloists and the orchestra. It has very much become the domain of established piano trios, and while violinist Katherine Lukey, cellist Michelle Wood and pianist Timothy Young each did an admirable job of their own part, chamber-style interaction was noticeably absent. The three lined themselves up along the front of the orchestra in an arrangement that suggested each would be competing with the others for dominant solo position. It must be said that each gave a solid soloist’s performance; Lukey’s ascending lines and Wood’s melodic arcs in the first movement were executed with flourish and keen attention to style. Though there was certainly give and take of lines – particularly through Wood and Young’s discursive interjections in the third movement – the orchestra’s joy and ease of moving as rarely flowed through to the soloists.

After the interval, however, Mozart’s Jupiter symphony was a showcase of exactly what the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra does best. As has become the norm, the group played standing, with director William Hennessy leading through gesture and sheer musical willpower. The resulting interpretation was fresh and utterly engaging, with attention to detail and seemingly effortless balance between the winds and strings. Rather than rushing through the third and fourth movements, the orchestra sat on the tempo just enough to let the intricacies of Mozart’s writing sparkle and dance.

If you’re particularly quick, the MCO is presenting this program again at 2:30 this afternoon (April 1st), once again in the Melbourne Recital Centre.