Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

10.01.12
Christopher Seaman
Sydney Morning Herald

By Martin Duffy

Melbourne Town Hall
September 29

IN A rare programming departure, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Christopher Seaman featured the excellent work of two celebrated international brass soloists.

Kodaly's Variations on a Hungarian Folksong, The Peacock, demonstrates his underrated skill at orchestration and there was refined brilliance from all sections, especially solo flute, brass and percussion. Norwegian tuba virtuoso Oystein Baadsvik demonstrated extraordinary technique and surprising agility across the instrument's range in a bravura performance of Vaughan Williams' Tuba Concerto in F minor. The underlying accompaniment in its Romanza was the perfect foil to the vocal beauty of his solo line.

Radovan Vlatkovic was an equally impressive soloist in Mozart's Horn Concerto No.2 in E flat major K 417. He has a lovely full sound capable of varied tone colours and his moments of humour perfectly captured the spirit of the final Rondo.

Although many of the identities and musical quotations that form the basis for Elgar's Enigma Variations have been elucidated, mystery remains regarding the origins of its theme. Seaman carefully crafted each variation, bringing out internal voicings to reveal the mastery of its orchestration. Seaman urged restraint at the beginning of the Nimrod Variation so that, as the movement built, its eventual climax appeared even more radiant.

Other notable variations featured strong individual solo performances from solo clarinet, viola and cello. With the addition of the Town Hall organ in full swells the majestic Finale was such a celebration of the best of British as to soften event the most hardened Republican heart.