The NZSO’s FIREBIRD programme finally made its way to Auckland on Friday the 24th of April having toured the North Island. The concert featured three fantastic works led by Conductor Hamish McKeich.
New Zealand-Canadian composer Juliet Palmer’s Buzzard was a welcome introduction. Written for a concert including Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the piece took elements from each by extrapolating and subverting them. Palmer used the Tchaikovsky waltz swing and the driving rhythms of Stravinsky to create jolty yet fluid orchestral textures with a modern twist.
Next, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 was played by pianist Diedre Irons. Playing quick runs with ease, Irons was complemented fittingly by orchestral interludes from the diminished ensemble. The sublime cadenza gave Irons a chance to display virtuosic skill and understanding of the repertoire which impressed an appreciative audience. Whilst Mozart isn’t my cup of tea, one must appreciate the craftsmanship put into this performance taking care of historical practice considerations.
Following the interval was the highlight, Stravinsky’s The Firebird. Written for the ballet in 1910, this was his first major commission so musically it’s less adventurous than its predecessors such as The Rite of Spring. This luscious piece was played brilliantly by the orchestra whose harmonies and rhythms were elegant and rich. The solos, particularly the famous bassoon solo, were divine and treated to a well-earned applause. The forte moments were tremendous and filled the town hall to great effect.
An eclectic programme enjoyed by a lively Auckland audience.