Performance was winner
Who: Opus Orchestra: Connections
When: Friday, September 28
Where: Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
Works by: Mozart, Prokofiev, Takemitsu and Schubert
Conductor: Peter Walls, Soloist: Andrew Leathwick
Reviewed by: Andrew Buchanan-Smart
The annual Connections concert is a result of the strong relationship between the University of Waikato music programme and the Opus Orchestra, where the prize for the winner of the Concerto Competition is to perform with Opus.
This year's winner, Andrew Leathwick, gave an assured, riveting performance of the virtuosic Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 3 in C, where the romantic elements were expressively captured while the drama was powerful and full of gusto.
The orchestra was pivotal in the accompanying role and never overshadowed Leathwick's remarkable performance. An encore of Scriabin's Etude Op 8 No 2 was a colourful desert.
Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio Overture captured the humorous elements with the cymbal and bass drum working overtime. It was an appropriate entree.
Takemitsu's Requiem for Strings uses polytonal layering and subtle harmonies to underpin poignant melodies; the work was challenging for the players and possibly for some listeners, but was a rewarding and moving experience all the same.
Schubert's Symphony No 4 in C minor, known as the Tragic, is only so in the opening Adagio molto. The ensuing Allegro vivace flowed from melody to melody with opulence, but the agitated sturm und drang element was never far away. The andante was beautifully shaped and glowed with a sadly sweet lyrical grace. The intimate string-woodwind exchanges were memorable, while the incisive rhythms of the minuetto with an appropriately lilting trio section soothed. The dramaticallegro prevailed in a finely crafted performance by Opus and Peter Walls. Footnote: The reviewer is a life member of the organisation.