The Power of the Piano

February 20, 2018

Sadly I can’t play the piano but it is one of the instruments I have always been fascinated by; from the flamboyance of Liberace and Elton John through to memorable scenes in Pretty Woman and The Fabulous Baker Boys, the piano has always seemed to me one of the most romantic of instruments. So you can imagine my delight when I was invited by The Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Kath Rose to view the first in the Maestro series for the season- Piano Power. The fabulous French  master pianist Jean – Efflam Bavouzet wowed the audience with his skill and personality and the  Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the guidance of mesmerising Scandinavian conductor – Daniel Blendulf played with excitement, passion and energy. The notes are still flitting around in my head as I write.

The Concert

Before the concert we attended a wonderful interactive talk with local conductor Lachlan Snow. Lachlan gave us an insight into some of the pieces we’d be hearing and helped us to really listen out for some elements in the compositions. He also explained the background to some of the music and composers which was enlightening to a layman like me.

The concert began with a light  amuse- bouche in the form of Mikhail Glinka’s- Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila. Debussy ‘s Fantaisie came next. This early Debussy work was never played in his lifetime but the light piano touches acted as a seasoning to the piece and it was exciting to hear the drama created when the piano was partnered with solo instruments from the orchestra.

After interval excitement and anticipation filled the audience as we waited to hear Maurice Ravel’s Concerto in D for Piano (Left Hand) and Orchestra. This is what many in the audience had come to see for we’d all heard of concertos written to be played with one hand but most had never experienced this form before. It was sensational to watch and listen to. This work had been commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, a talented pianist who had returned from the war minus a hand. The technical difficulty in this work was so great that he begged Ravel to simplify it. Ravel who was very fond of his ‘neat and nice’ labours refused and this stunning workhas endured. It is a lovely, sophisticated work filled with bass and treble (difficult with one hand) and the audience response was ecstatic. It was pure magic.

Scriabin’s Symphony No. 4, Op.54 The Poem of Ecstasy was another highlight. This poem reflects on philosophies as diverse as Buddhism and Nietzsche. This masterpiece contrasts the languorous and active, the slow and the fast. The orchestra soared with high violins and repeated woodwinds and trilling horns restored the pace. This was the music played when Yuri Gagarin blasted off into space and at points I felt the orchestra was about to take off or at least lift the roof with their masterful playing.

Guests of the Orchestra had the chance to mingle with the musicians at a lovely French themed party at Sky Bar in The Convention and Exhibition Centre where we sampled French wine, cheese, pate, crusty baguettes and colourful macarons. Tres bien!

This was only the first in the 2018  Maestro series. You still have a chance to see pianists – Sergio Tiempo, Denis Kozhukin, Tamara – Anna Cislowska or master violinists Chad Hoopes and Barnabas Kelemen plus many more revered artists from around the globe.They will be playing alongside our wonderful Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of some of the finest conductors in the world today. If you haven’t seen the Orchestra for a while why not head along.The Orchestra has refocused, reimagined and re- designed themselves for 2018 and beyond. They urge patrons to- ‘let yourself go’ this year. We truly had a wonderful night out.

For tickets and more information on the Maestro Series click here!

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).