5 Dec 2017

Review: Orchestra Wellington The Rite of Spring

From Upbeat, 1:40 pm on 5 December 2017

Orchestra Wellington closed its 2017 season with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Conducted by Marc Taddei the Orchestra offered up a dramatic performance that pleased the crowd. Peter Mechen was at the Michael Fowler Centre on the weekend. He discusses if this was the perfect way to end the year.

Marc Taddei Music Director Orchestra Wellington

Marc Taddei Music Director Orchestra Wellington Photo: Supplied

Two of the most famous chords in all music began this, the final concert of Orchestra Wellington's 1917 season, which was centered around the activities of the renowned impresario Serge Diaghilev and the music he commissioned for his Ballet Russe to perform.

The famous chords, however, belonged to Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, chosen for this concert as the nineteenth-century revolutionary equivalent to the concluding work on the programme, Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Rite of Spring". As Beethoven's "Eroica" did for its time, Stravinsky's "The Rite" profoundly influenced all music which was composed throughout the century following.

To this day both pieces still in some ways sound as revolutionary as when they were first composed, Beethoven's through its sheer scale and range of expression, and Stravinsky's through its primordial sounds, textures and rhythms.

Conductor Marc Taddei and his players brought out these "revolutionary" qualities in each work with tremendous skill and energy throughout,  giving Beethoven's music the thrust and dynamism which made the symphony a force to be reckoned with, and bringing out the character of the work's incredible range of moods right to the finale's concluding statement of joyous abandonment.

Stravinsky's very contemporary-sounding work was then given a fantastically-detailed performance which conveyed the music's powerful, resonant atmosphere, building the tensions irrevocably and releasing monumental waves of primitive energy wrought by the music's fiercely-concentrated playing and direction - a triumph, for the musicians, in both skill and spontaneity!

- Peter Mechen