Conducted by Michael Joel, soloist William McNeill.
Salvation Army Centre, Saturday, March 24.
Reviewed by STEPHEN FISHER.
The Manawatu Sinfonia chose an appealing programme, with a feeling of much substance for their first concert for 2012. Featuring works by Beethoven, Richard Strauss and Dvorak, this was a programme of variety and interest that could easily grace any concert hall.
The conductor, Michael Joel, is a newcomer to our local Sinfonia, but appears to be the first of a series of guest conductors, who should provide our local players with plenty of challenges.
Opening with one of the lesser known Beethoven overtures, The Consecration of the House, the work is full of energy and excitement with its notable brass fanfares. However, unfortunately this will not be remembered as one of the more notable Sinfonia performances, with the orchestra sounding under-rehearsed, and lacking in cohesiveness in parts.
This work was followed by Richard Strauss' First Horn Concerto in E-flat major, featuring an exceptionally promising horn player, William McNeill. He was obviously very much at home throughout this performance, drawing much vibrancy and expression with beautiful tone, throughout the piece. Winner of last year's Musica Viva Young Performer Scholarship, McNeill is certainly a local musician with the potential for a very bright future.
The second half of the programme featured Dvorak's Symphony No6, a work full of Brahms, Beethoven and the Czech musical character. Here again the Sinfonia enjoyed this lively music, however, there were disappointing lapses in intonation.
However, this must not take the shine off the work of McNeill, who ensured that this concert would be most memorable with the promise of great things later in the year.
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