MUSIC REVIEW: Sidney Myer Free Concerts: Valentine’s Day Concert

All of the elements of a beautiful Melbourne Saturday evening worked perfectly together for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Valentine day’s Concert in front of a packed crowd at the second of the free Sidney Myer Free Concerts for 2009.
MUSIC REVIEW: Sidney Myer Free Concerts: Valentine’s Day Concert
All of the elements of a beautiful Melbourne Saturday evening worked perfectly together for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Valentine day’s Concert in front of a packed crowd at the second of the free Sidney Myer Free Concerts for 2009. The balmy evening started with the Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet– Fantasy Overture, a popular choice with the audience and the romantic associations of the day. Oleg Caetani was in his element, with his Russian sensibility infusing every note. The Russian theme continued with the Rachmaninov that followed, the justifiably popular Piano Concerto no 2 with Amir Farid at the keyboard. This was a perfect program choice, as the performance provided the spectacle necessary for entertaining a large crowd in an open air venue. Farid delivered the ‘whole package’ so to speak, with a technically accomplished performance, full of the emotion that the occasion demanded. The importance of choosing accomplished young musicians at these free concerts cannot be underestimated as a source of inspiration for other young people. Young children throughout the audience were transfixed by Farid’s inspiring performance, which must have a long term effect upon musical futures. After the interval, the Adagietto from Mahler no 5 provided a wonderful backdrop to the fading light, contrasted with the rare sight of Southern Cross visible overhead from the bowl. Many of the audience may not have heard Mahler before, but demonstrated genuine appreciation of the performance, indicating that audiences are quite prepared to go beyond what programmers would consider ‘popular tastes’. The last program item, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chlöe: Suite no 2, would have been even less know to most of the audience, but the pure joy of this suite was a wonderfully romantic and accessible climax to a special event. The encore item, Ravel’s almost unbearably sad Pavane pour une infante défunte, was a contrast to the previous joyful music of the evening, and in view of the events of the preceding week’s bushfires, provided a time of quiet reflection. This event was so popular, that the gates of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl had to be shut, leaving thousands of people unable to enter the event, a testament to the drawing power of the orchestra. There was a real ‘buzz’ as the audience was leaving, and I’m sure that all of us, who managed to witness this event, will remember it for some time to come. Sidney Myer Free Concerts: Valentine’s Day Concert. Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, 14 February 2009, Melbourne. There are two more Sidney Myer Free Concerts (Wednesday, 18 February and 21 February 2009). For information on upcoming MSO concerts see www.mso.com.au

Ronald McCoy

Monday 16 February, 2009

About the author

Ronald McCoy is a Melbourne medico and educator with a passion for the arts. He is a singer and musician of classical and traditional music, and is the National Library of Australia, National Folk Fellowship Fellow for 2007-08. He has been a regular reviewer on the Melbourne scene for the past couple of years, has published on a wide variety of arts and medicine topics, but still spends far too many hours putting pen to paper writing.