Concert Review: Odes to Joy, Orchestra Wellington

Soprano Elisabeth Harris.

Soprano Elisabeth Harris.

​Odes to Joy
Orchestra Wellington conducted by Marc Taddei  with Rustem Khamidullin (cello), Orpheus Choir, Jenny Wollerman, Elisabeth Harris, Henry Choo, Warwick Fyfe.
Music by Haydn and Beethoven.
Michael Fowler Centre 11 June.
Reviewed by John Button.

Beethoven's Symphony No.9  'Choral'  always attracts a big house and this was no exception. And the packed hall was treated to a propulsive performance under Marc Taddei; one that was marked by a real sense of occasion and generally excellent playing from the orchestra.

Each section had its moments but, just occasionally, ensemble was awry, but given the urgency of Taddei's approach and perhaps a shortage of rehearsal time, this was excusable.  

Nevertheless each movement was handled with real conviction – the tension of the opening movement, the fire of the scherzo underpinned by Larry Reese on classical kettle drums, a properly flowing slow movement and  an exciting finale.  Starting with a marvellously biting playing of the recitative with double basses and cellos digging deep, this famous movement sent the audience home happy. Fine soloists, and vibrant choral singing set the seal on a performance of real conviction.

But the concert's opener,  Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major could not be ignored.

The young Russian cellist – he was born in Bashkortostan – Rustem Khamidullin proved to be a player of real distinction. Winner of the 2014 Gisborne International Music Competition he showed an effortless, beautifully inflected, technique, coupled with an instinctive musicality; this was music making of the highest quality with the orchestra collaborating with real style.

His encore – 'Hora Staccato' in an arrangement for cello and strings – was equally stunning. But the programme booklet  was a sloppy affair with no information on Khamidullin – or the soloists in the symphony for that matter.

Not the most auspicious start for the orchestra's new general manager.

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