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ASO unwraps classic favourites


The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is finding ways to satisfy its loyal supporters while at the same time appealing to a wider audience.

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For Classics Unwrapped #3, orchestral music lovers of all ages were asked to decide the program by voting for their favourite piece from a list of choices taken from ABC Classic FM’s The Classic 100 – 10 Years On.

Part of the fun of attending the live concert was to see which classical favourite topped the list.

Popular ABC FM presenter and experienced conductor Guy Noble hosted the concert in his inimitable style which combines wit and information with a relaxed and confident delivery.

In 8th spot was Vivaldi ‘s “The Four Seasons: Spring”, a work for strings which was led by superb violinist Elizabeth Layton. On a beautiful Adelaide spring day, this was a joyful way to begin, with Layton’s mind, face, fingers and body immersed in her performance.

The strings were joined by the full orchestra for Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No 5”, and in full flight the ASO create an enormous sound.

Noble whetted the audience’s appetite for the next piece, Khachaturian’s “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia”, with an impressive impersonation of Russell Crowe from Gladiator. He also titillated our senses with his description of it being the sensual bliss of a marital reunion; the music is beautiful and crescendos to a stunning climax followed by a gentle, soothing winding down.

The ASO played 5th-placed Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” with ease, and its familiarity was a relaxing warm-up for the top place-getters.

In 4th spot, Elgar’s “Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85” provided an opportunity to showcase cellist Simon Cobcroft. The quality of sound emanating from his cello and his fellow players resonated deeply within us all; the sombre, sustained timbre of this piece was breathtaking. The complete Elgar Concerto will be performed by the orchestra in 2016, in a concert featuring Cobroft, and it will be one to watch out for.

Third place on the list of favourites was no surprise: the finale of Beethoven’s “Symphony No 6” played with power and passion by the complete orchestra.

Massenet’s “Thais: Meditation” came in second, and Noble’s brief description of the story being a courtesan’s choice of continuing as a courtesan or becoming a nun set the scene for another magnificent piece of music which featured Layton’s again and allowed Suzanne Handel on harp to be an essential element of a soul-searching, uplifting piece.

Classics lovers voted Smetana’s “Vitava (Moldau)” as their number-one choice – and what a tremendous way to finish a concert, with its depiction of a rolling river mightily making its way through a landscape, gently meandering and finishing with a flourish.

In Classics Unwrapped 3, the ASO delivered a world-class, 90-minute performance to a capacity house in the sumptuous Adelaide Town Hall.

There will be similar concerts in 2016 and it will be good to see classical music lovers, young aspiring musicians and grandparents with their grandchildren attending and benefiting from a very popular performance.

On November 20 and 21 at the Festival Theatre it will share the stage with dancers from the Australian Ballet School in ASO at the Ballet. It will also present Great Classics 4 – Epic Strauss on November 28.


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