For a Monday night, it was a dedicated crowd that came to the Melbourne Recital Centre to savour the delights of some classical music, played by the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (MCO). The group, directed by William Hennessy, made light work of difficult pieces by Bach, Schubert and Beethoven. Each piece gained more musicians and momentum until its spectacular finale with piano soloist Aura Go.
The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra is comprised of guest musicians from professional ensembles including Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra along with alumni from the Australian National Academy of Music and other tertiary music institutions.
The program, entitled Brio, consisted of three pieces: Bach –Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 Schubert – Symphony No. 5 Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 1
Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre was the perfect setting for this classical program. Similarly, the unique twang of the harpsichord transported the audience back in time while the strings produced a warm, rich sound in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. A smaller group of MCO musicians were featured in this piece, creating a more intimate and delicate sound. It also featured two violas as soloists, performed by guest musicians from the Sydney Symphony. The sound of two violas playing together in close counterpoint provided an interesting, rich blend of sound not often heard in such an intimate setting.
The second movement ‘Adagio ma non troppo’, was much slower allowing the wonderful playing of principal cellist Howard Penny to soar beautifully on top of the viola sound underneath. The final movement picked up the pace with the ensemble playing with great energy and finesse through the many technical passages throughout.
The next piece saw the full string section take to the stage in Schubert’s Fifth Symphony in Bb Major D485. Woodwind and brass instruments including French horn, Oboe, Flute and Bassoon also enhanced the overall sound, adding great dynamics and depth to the piece.
The second movement ‘Andante’ was beautifully phrased, with a fo- cus on the woodwind section that was lovely to hear. The MCO achieved a beautiful contrast between this and the faster paced ‘Minuetto: Allegro molto’ movement that directly followed.
The final movement ‘Allegro vivace’ was the strongest of the four,with a full round sound showing the strength of Schubert’s symphony. Incredibly virtuosic passages could be heard throughout each section, adding depth and vitality to the performance. The piece was directed by principal Violin and concertmaster, William Hennessy, whose energy and enthusiasm as conductor translated to the musicians and audience alike.
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Op. 15 was without a doubt the highlight of the evening. Piano soloist Aura Go joined the stage along with conductor Michael Dahlenburg and a larger selection of instruments including clarinets, trumpets and timpani. They successfully brought a greater expressive range to the orchestra, to compliment the many stringed instruments creating a fuller sound.
Aura Go was stunning in a black floor-length dress, as she impressed the audience with her complete control of the piano. Her sensitivity and technique created a strong empathy with the orchestra and audience, as her inspired cadenza showcased her depth and talent. It is easy to see why she is in high national and international demand.
Throughout the entire performance the orchestra and soloist alike displayed excellent timing and control despite the inherent complexity of the work.
The work culminated in an impressive finale that was full of energy and resonance. The audience erupted in applause, appropriately acknowledging the sensational soloist Aura Go, until she had taken no less than four bows. The musicians of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra were also invited to stand multiple times, much to the audience’s delight at their incredible playing throughout the nights performance.