When oboist Diana Doherty had to cancel both performances due to illness, some last-minute deft footwork from conductor Umberto Clerici and the Sydney Symphony led to a gig to appease even the virtuoso’s most enthusiastic fans. popular.
Instead of the Richard Strauss concerto, audiences were treated to a tight, well-structured rendition of Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ Symphony No. 3, inspired by his visit to the ruins of Holyrood Chapel near Edinburgh.
Unlike the blazing sun and blue sky of its cousin the Italian Symphony, the moods of Op. 56 is as changeable as the Scottish weather, and Clerici got us through the misty opening before the dramatic winds and rain swept across the landscape. The dance-like second movement, with Francesco Celata’s clarinet in the lead, had just enough weight to make us believe it was a Highland reel, although Mendelssohn didn’t used real Scottish melodies.
The five horns, led by guest principal David Evans, were in full voice for the finale of this finely nuanced yet precisely detailed performance under Clerici’s baton, and the orchestra was in full swing, having warmed up with a rendition invigorating by Mozart Marriage of Figaro Opening.
By way of introduction, violist Rosemary Curtin gave a welcome speech in which she compared Clerici’s dramatic transition from principal cello to in-demand bandleader to a “Maserati taking off from a red light in Naples.” . He certainly had the orchestra finely tuned for Weber’s The Freischutz Opening that opened the second half. The horns were once again in top form to kick off this 10 minutes of condensed drama, romance and action. It is a masterpiece for the orchestra and it served as the perfect opening for this other display of bravery, that of Strauss. The Rider of the Rose Suite in which just about every musician receives a guernsey, although special mention should be made of oboists Shefali Pryor and Celata, as well as Rebecca Lagos and her team of percussionists who brought the famous waltz to outrageously romantic life .
It was, in fact, a concert that had just about everything – except, of course, Doherty. As Curtin said, in these uncertain times, the SSO has proven itself “nimble for a symphony orchestra” as it navigates the past two months before returning to its rightful place in the Opera House’s renovated concert hall. from Sydney.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs Scottish inspirations again on Saturday April 23.