Five by Five - Concert Four: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Marc Taddei. Sibelius: Karelia Suite, Symphony No 5
Michael Fowler Centre, March 10
In the three concerts in this series up till now I have been impressed by both conductors and the quality of the NZSO's playing, early in their year. But this concert was undoubtedly the finest yet.
Sibelius' Fifth Symphony went through a large number of revisions before Sibelius was satisfied, and those who have heard the fascinating BIS recording, in which both an earlier and the final version is played, will understand just what Sibelius was about.
Not every conductor does, but here Taddei nailed the work by catching its essence with superb tempos, scrupulous balances and a dynamic grasp of each of the three movements. After a beautifully judged opening, the drama of the first movement is maintained - the second movement, distinguished by some wonderfully sure string playing.
The third movement moved inexorably towards its dramatic six sharp chord conclusion with the drama enhanced with real skill and superb balances between the brass and the rest of the orchestra.
The Karelia Suite opened the concert, and right from the quickish tempo for the immensely popular Intermezzo, Taddei established his Sibelian credentials, something he maintained in both the Ballade and the final Alla Marcia. Superb playing once again, and together the two works thrilled a very sizeable audience.
- The Dominion Post