Conductor and Violin Soloist – Martin Riseley.
Speirs Centre, Sunday, November 20.
Reviewed by STEPHEN FISHER.
Yesterday afternoon's performance by the Manawatu Sinfonia featured a well-chosen programme of music, easy on the ear but with enough challenges to provide much satisfaction for listeners and performers alike.
We were treated to Beethoven's Coriolan Overture along with his Romance for Violin and Orchestra in G major, followed by Mozart's Violin Concerto No 3 in G major and Schubert's Symphony No 3 in D major. Martin Riseley appeared on the podium both as conductor and soloist, providing outstanding leadership from his instrument during the two violin works.
Riseley has a most physical presence when leading the orchestra, providing the necessary inspiration for the Sinfonia to respond to his detailed expressive demands, but it is these very demands that brought the music alive throughout the afternoon.
As conductor, Riseley may have just been letting the orchestra warm up during the Overture, but there is no doubt that the closing symphony was confidently played, revealing its full expressive and tonal glory.
The Mozart Concerto and Beethoven's Romance were led from the violin, the performances reflecting a spirited performance with a marvellous balance between orchestra and soloist, and an impressive bass sound.
While the Sinfonia was very much in tune with the soloist's intentions throughout his impromptu solo performance of a set of Paganini variations, played at the end of the first half, he won much admiration from the Sinfonia and audience alike.
Martin Riseley is obviously a demanding, but very engaging and relaxed, conductor. The obviously warm relationship between conductor and orchestra has ensured that the Sinfonia is performing with an increasingly mature sound, warmly reflected in the concert hall.
Undoubtedly, Martin Riseley and the Sinfonia have provided one of the musical highlights for the year, and I look forward to next year's concert from this most talented young man.
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