01 April 2012

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra: Jupiter

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Sunday April 2 2012

MCO, aka Hennessy’s Lot, is simply superb. Today they were crisp clean and rich with the skill – and musicianship – to dim. the end of a phrase to that of a strand of gossamer: the Hennessy trademark.

How long has it been since The Marriage of Figaro overture made you sit up? The tapestry was all there.

And then some of Beethoven’s most magnificent writing matched by some of Melbourne’s most magnificent soloists: Katherine Lukey playing violin, Michelle Wood playing cello and Timothy Young playing piano. The two strings are core members of MCO and the piano from ANAM. So all three playing were superbly equipped to take us into the depths of Beethoven’s soul and to light the star shells that his darkness cannot contain.

Mr MCO has a policy, evidently, of giving the solo gigs to young people and it is wonderful to know that, should one of today’s lot have come down with the dreaded lurgi, there were others behind them who were eminently capable of stepping forward: Helen Ayres and Young Mister Dahlenberg to name but two. And for me the twin French horns – liquid gold – and twin bassoons – liquid dark chocolate – were stand-out performances; accurate, controlled, and restrained when needed. This was gasp-inducing stuff; music performance that grabbed me in the gut. The rest of the DameEMHall audience thought so to, bursting into applause at the end of the first movement. When a staid Melbourne audience defies Proper Concert Behaviour you know you’ve heard a winner. What next; a standing ovation? Shudder!

Then Mozart’s symphony no. 41, often called Jupiter but properly subtitled Tympani allenamento and John Arcaro was simply superb (to coin a cliché). The carpet of sound was produced by beautiful, beautiful playing; sensitive, powerful and, again, restrained so nothing of Mozart’s genius was lost in hurried phrases or mushy, twiddly bits (as they are known to us AMEB Grade 5 graduates).

The encore – the third movement, Minuet, of Mozart’s string quartet no. 15 – was carefully chosen to show off Mr MCO’s lot; their trademark string phrasing again.

Mr Hennessy’s violin is the only one I’ve ever seen that always takes a bow.

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