Visiting maestro packs out cathedral
Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415
Nelson Cathedral, Saturday June 3
REVIEW: The lure of white-haired Maestro Masaaki Suzuki from Japan, a chamber orchestra drawn from the Juilliard School in New York and a programme of Johann Sebastian Bach ensured both a packed house and a superb concert at Nelson Catherdral.
It started with the Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major, a series of contrasting movements played by all 18 musicians, including concertmaster Cynthia Roberts, herself a Juilliard faculty member.
The balance of sound was perfect, with the bassoon deftly underpinning the music's harmonic structure. By the third movement smiles softened the faces of several of the violinists.
If there were any straight faces after the first work these were dispelled by the next work, Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, played with sublime skill by Isabelle Seula Lee and Karen Dekker.
Such is the mastery of these two soloists, together with the string ensemble, that Maestro Suzuki deemed himself surplus to requirements. What emerged was a performance of subtle and sublime energy, simultaneously stimulating and soothing.
Then came soprano Rebecca Farley. She is possessed of a stunning, perfectly modulated voice.
She sang the five-movement work "Ich habe genug", alongside Jonathan Slade, playing baroque flute, in a performance she must have relished. The audience certainly did. Maestro Suzuki looked delighted.
The final work, Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, consists of five movements. This is archetypal Bach, with melody and counterpoint, heavily reliant on the woodwinds for tonal depth.
The second movement "Air" is frequently played in isolation as Air on a G String, a rather unfortunate reduction which belies the beauty of the other four lesser played movements.
At the finish a standing ovation said it all. Thank you again, Chamber Music New Zealand.
- The Nelson Mail