Concert Review: Orchestra Wellington - Beethoven, Elmsly, Stravinsky

Viiolinist Jun Hong Loh gave the audience a virtuoso display during Saturday night's Orchestra Wellington concert.
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Viiolinist Jun Hong Loh gave the audience a virtuoso display during Saturday night's Orchestra Wellington concert.

Orchestra Wellington, conducted by Marc Taddei, with Jun Hong Loh (violin).
Music by Beethoven, Elmsly and Stravinsky,
Michael Fowler Centre, May 13.
Reviewed by John Button.


In this, the first concert of six loosely based on the entrepreneurial world of Serge Diaghilev, we heard the Beethoven First Symphony and Stravinsky's Firebird, with a new Violin Concerto by John Elmsly sandwiched in between. 

Interesting programming, but the violin concerto failed to make any real impression. With the writing for both orchestra and soloist seeming, to these ears, to be at odds with one another – the orchestra seemed much more conventionally tonal, while the violin forged a more atonal path –  and the use of a percussionist in the last two movements made little sense.

Jun Hong Loh can certainly play, as he was quick to display in a virtuoso encore.

The Beethoven symphony was superbly stylish and crisp, with the use of classical kettledrums a masterstroke. Here, the years of playing Haydn symphonies has certainly paid off, with the strings, in particular, wonderfully sure and articulate.

The second-half featured Stravinsky's Firebird, advertised as a Suite based on the 1911 original score. What we got was virtually the whole ballet, with some reduction in orchestral numbers. But this was still a fairly large orchestra and it made a superb sound, culminating in great splendour in the final pages. All the solos were beautifully taken and all Stravinsky's post Rimsky-Korsakov  colour was there in abundance.

A longish concert, but one that a very full hall clearly enjoyed to the hilt.

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