Concert Review: NZSO - Music by Brahms, Schumann and Barber
Music by Brahms, Schumann and Barber
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Feddeck, with Daniel Muller-Schott (cello).
Michael Fowler Centre June 17.
There was not a very full hall for this concert and I suspect a rather odd programme had to take some of the blame.
To pair Brahms and Schumann with Samuel Barber made little sense, and, even allowing for some fine playing, it didn't really work. However, there was, along the way, quite a lot to enjoy.
American conductor James Feddeck is new to us and he proved to be a strong-minded musician; oddly so at times, with Barber's famous Adagio for Strings strung out to nearly 12 minutes. But he gave us a finely judged performance of the Brahms Tragic Overture, and he opened out the rather dense orchestration in Schumann's seldom-played Cello Concerto convincingly.
This was quite superbly played by Daniel Muller-Schott, with the highlight a beautiful dialogue with NZSO Principal Cellist Andrew Joyce in the slow movement. But, to be fair, this is not one of Schumann's finer works and notwithstanding the fine playing, it also highlighted the overscheduling of cellists over the last couple of years – very poor planning.
Samuel Barber was a composer with a real lyrical gift; something shown in his finest works (Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Music for a Scene from Shelley, the Violin Concerto) but he wasn't a natural symphonist. Indeed, he even tore up his Second Symphony ,retaining only one of its movements. The First Symphony, however, has its lyrical moments within a high-octane energy that never flags during its 20 minutes or so. It helped, here, having a committed conductor and an orchestra that can play this music as to the manner born.