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Concert Review: West Australian Symphony Orchestra (Perth Concert Hall)

05.02.11
Giancarlo Guerrero
The West Australian

By Neville Cohn

Despite the opposing allure of a live TV broadcast of the royal wedding, a capacity audience turned out for one of the WASO's most colourful offerings so far this year.

Costa Rican Giancarlo Guerrero, making his WASO debut, may have a visually distracting conducting style, but it certainly yielded rich musical dividends as the players responded to his direction.

Fountains of Rome provides a fascinating window into Respighi's musical workshop, abounding in fascinating detail.

It was an ideal curtain-raiser, the pagan splendour of much of the writing underscored by magnificent flourishes from trumpets and trombones and fine work on keyboards from Graeme Gilling and Jana Kovar.

As ever, Andrew Nicholson was faultless on flute.

Rimsky Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol brimmed with on-form contributions. Sarah Bowman's harp cadenza was virtuosic and there were finely stated offerings on cor anglais from Elizabeth Chee and French horn from David Evans.

Virile tutti climaxes left the ears ringing. Throughout, Guerrero brought freshness to familiar notes.

Baritone James Clayton was a fine vocal soloist, adapting to each nuance of the part as if it had been written for him.

It was beautifully polished singing.

Counter tenor Tobias Cole sang his solo with sense and sensibility - and Elisa Wilson, as ever, sang with great sincerity.

The 120 massed voices of the WASO Chorus and the young members of John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School Choir came up trumps again.

Throughout, Guerrero demonstrated a rare gift - an ability to draw a full-hearted response from his forces without allowing the music to lapse into crassness or vulgar effusiveness.

Hopefully, there will be further opportunities to hear Guerrero conduct the WASO.