Reviews, News and Commentary

Auckland Philharmonia’s 2023 concert series

Previewed by John Daly-Peoples

Khatia Buniatishvil

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

2023 Season

Previewed by John Daly-Peoples

One of the highlights of next year’s APO concerts will be the Trusts  concert version of Eric Korngold’s opera “Die Tote Stadt “(The Dead City) which debuted in Germany in the1920’s and  was performed around the globe at the time. However his work was banned under the Nazi regime and it was some time before it began appearing in opera houses, only having its first UK performance in 2009.

I saw it in Frankfurt five years ago and wrote at the time “The opera’s theme of the loss of a loved one and coming to terms with and moving on was a theme which was particularly relevant to a Europe which had suffered widespread loss during World War I but the work can now be interpreted in terms of sexual obsessions and disillusioned sacrifice. There is a surreal element to the work with several dream sequences some of which feature the red dress of the main characters wife.”

Die Tote Stadt (Frankfurt Opera)

“Korngold’s music is expressionist as was much of the art of the period but he managed to combine this with the romanticism of the nineteenth century along with a melodic modernism. There are traces of Verdi and Puccini as well as Strauss and Lehar with the music providing a strong melodic line which gives great scope for all the singers”

As well as the opera the APO will .be playing several other works by Korngold including “Dance in the Old style”, “Overture to a drama”, and the “Sea Hawk Suite” which was his music for the soundtrack of the Errol Flynn movie The Sea Hawk which he wrote when he became a major composer for Hollywood films.

Shiyeon Sun

An important addition to the orchestra next year will be  the appointment of South Korean conductor Shiyeon Sung to the role of Principal Guest Conductor for three years. Sung debuted with the orchestra this year and I noted that “she  guided the orchestra effortlessly through the Dvorak Cello Concerto played by  Julien-Laferrière”..She is a major international conducting force having won both the Solti and Mahler Competitions.

The concerts will feature soloists from Europe, Asia, North America and Australia as well as from New Zealand and include Geneva Lewis (violin)– also daughter of NZ tennis champion Chris Lewis), Lise de la Salle (piano), Jaemin Han (cello), Sergey Khachatryan (violin), Annelien Van Wauwe (basset clarinet) and French-Georgian superstar Khatia Buniatishvili (piano).

Many of the great symphonic works are on the programme including Beethoven Symphony No 9 with soloists Kirstin Sharpin,S ally-Anne Russell, Manase Latu and Teddy Tahu Rhodes. That programme will also feature the composers Symphony No 8.

Other symphonies include Glazunov Symphony No 8, Elgar Symphony No 1, Mozart Symphony No 40, Dvorak Symphony No 9 (From the New World), Schumann Symphony No 1 and Mendelssohn Symphony No 5. There is also Shostakovich Symphony No 5 which the orchestra played this year and I described the work as a “contemplation of the battlefield, the horror of battle and the eerie aftermath. But this is not some reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s triumphant 1812 and it  sems very relevant to the present day as Ukraine had been focus of Russian territorial ambition in WWI and the site of much fighting and destruction.

There are a number of notable concertos being presented  as well  with the Haydn Cello Concerto No 1, Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 1 the Bruch Violin Concerto No 12 and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninov and the orchestra will be playing several of his works including his Piano Concerto No 2, Symphonic Dances, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and his Isle of the Dead.

As usual he orchestra is providing some popular concerts with   a tribute concert to late, great Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim and a family-friendly romp through Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, featuring the comedic talents of Dynamotion which includes performances from Chris Parker, Alice Canton, Lara Fischel-Chisholm and Tom Sainsbury.

Several of the concerts have a theme linking disparate works such as the “In the Elements” programme which includes Sibelius’s ;last great work, his one movement Seventh Symphony which has  been described as a cosmic dance. The work will be preceded by three other works which touch on elemental forces with the Vaughan Williams’: “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis”, Benjamin Britten’s ‘Four Sea Interludes from “Peter Grimes”, and  a new work by Salina Fisher “Taonga Puora Concert”

Matariki celebrations, will feature Rob Ruha, and the multi-award-winning artist Troy Kingi.

The hugely popular big-screen film in concert adventures return, with two of Disney’s modern classics scheduled, a Halloween film-in-concert performance of the 1993 film Hocus Pocus and in September, the APO heads to ‘infinity and beyond’ with the Pixar classic Toy Story.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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