Promise in final flourish

DAVID SELL
Last updated 08:38 25/11/2013
Tom Woods
Stephen Goodneough
FULL HOUSE: Conductor Tom Woods.

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It is always satisfying to the performers when there is a Full House sign at the entrance, as there was for this, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra's last Masterworks concert for the year.

There was much in it to attract, especially Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Bernstein.

West Side Story is packed full of dances, vivid and close to the emotions. Its genius is in dignifying the harsh and brutal with perfection. The music is complex, and the revealing acoustics of the venue were sometimes brutal on the players. But the picture was there, with a good overall result.

Rhapsody in Blue may be showing signs of age but a pianist with the energy of Alexander Gavrylyuk, can bring anything alive.

After the interval came more Symphonic Dances, this time by Rachmaninov, and about nothing in particular. The flamboyance of Gershwin was put aside, as was the vivid painting of Bernstein.

For once the strings were the core of the sound, though the orchestra could have done with a few more players for a work that relied strongly on rich sonorities.

The venue favours wind and percussion, is good for their colour and contrasts but hard on deficiencies. On the other hand, the strings have to work really hard to get a balance, but blend with relative ease.

A peek at the orchestra's 2014 Masterworks promises a rich and full series, tending to the romantic, but with plenty of variety.

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, in Rhapsody, with piano soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk, conducted by Tom Woods. At the Wigram Air Force Museum, Saturday night, November 23. Reviewed by David Sell.

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