#SheReviews Piano Power – Queensland Symphony Orchestra

September 14, 2022

Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) never lets us down. Once again as part of their 75 years celebration and the Brisbane Festival this September, we were presented with Piano Power at Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) grand Concert Hall. Indeed, it was a powerful production from beginning to end.

Distinguished international conductor Asher Fischer opened the concert with a unique and dramatic performance of Hinterland written by gifted Australian composer, Lachlan Skipworth. As a precursor, Lachlan told us he was inspired by the landscape of his home state, Western Australia, and his work was a series of imagined sound and light plays acted out in music. 

Lachlan had previously spent three years in Japan studying Japanese music traditions which had a strong influence on his work. Hinterland requires a taiko drum to produce a certain sound but QSO used a chudaiko with stones placed on the timpani which amplified the mallets striking them. They used three flat stones and three smaller rocks which is rather unusual for a percussion set-up. It was fascinating to watch and listen to. There were trumpets ablaze which created an echo effect as the players moved around. The harp was played with a hard rubber mallet and the principal double bassist had a drumstick. It was intriguing and fun. 

Following this dramatic opening for the evening, highly regarded and well-established pianist, Behzod Abduraimov took us away playing on the powerful and modern concert grand piano playing Rachmaninov’s Concerto No.2 in C minor for Piano & Orchestra, OP.19. With every keystroke Behzod’s emotions vibrated throughout the Concert Hall. The first movement is slow and builds gently over time, the piano gets heavier and heavier then the orchestra introduces a melody.

 In the second movement, I heard Celine Dion’s song All By Myself and felt like singing out loud. In the final movement, the orchestra begins the introduction and the piano then enters with a free rhythmic style called a cadenza. Behzod’s fingers dart across the keyboard and finally brings us to a magnificent finale. 

This complete piece is full of rich piano and the never-ending melodies indeed took our souls on an enriching journey. I couldn’t help but think of David Helfgott as Behzod was playing and I later read that Matthew Kinmont, the Acting Associate Principal Celloist said he had worked with David on the movie Shine and his warmth and eccentric personality were infectious. I understood what he was saying.   

As expected, it was a repeated standing ovation as this jaw-dropping young pianist took us on his journey. He was incredible, his hands graced the ivories like a calm sea lapping over sandy shores that quickly turned into a vociferous storm. We didn’t want him to cease playing and appreciated his return to the piano stool for a final encore.

Finally, in the third symphony of Brahms Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90 where the cello section had the opportunity to waltz us with four beautiful melodies with recurrent themes. Their combination is reminiscent of lost love with all four melodies finishing quietly and peacefully, the final movement mirroring the close of the first. 

Another beautiful evening with QSO, where I consistently return home in a state of contentment and happiness.

Coming up Events for QSO to celebrate Brisbane Festival:

Queens Wharf Disco 24 September 2022, Riverstage at 59 Gardens Point Road, Brisbane

Opportunities to be up close with the musicians: 

25 September, Studio Sessions 4, Works by Green, Harrison, Sdraulig, Shaw 3 pm at QSO Studio

October 14- 15 October Maestro – Beethoven and Dvorak Beautiful Things

A full schedule of events for the remaining 2022 season, tickets and bookings online https://qso.com.au/events  

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