#SheReviews Beethoven and Sibelius

October 5, 2021


It was a dark and stormy night, thunder crashed like cymbals and rain pitter pattered like a thousand violins.The sky was rumbling like a deep double bass. It was the perfect night to stay safe inside listening to beautiful music from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Tonight’s Maestro performance of Beethoven and Sibelius also marked the launch of QSO’s 2022 Season. She Society were there amidst a sea of sequins , tasteful black and flowing champagne, very excited to see our soloist of the evening, Grace Clifford. 

Fittingly the first choice of music was a romantic opera from Wagner. With my son’s wedding only two weeks away, the drama of this piece was not lost on me. Conductor Alex Briger AO waved his magic baton to conjure the mayhem caused when a pagan witch threatens to waylay the wedding of Elsa. Accusations are flying, Elsa forgets her betrothed’s name and the cathedral is in chaos. Then comes the Prelude to her Bridal Chorus where the action builds with the crashing of cymbals, sweeps through violins and roars through the lower brass in unison.The orchestra relished this opportunity to work together as one and I do hope our day is not so dramatic. The music had my heart racing. 

Soloist , the ethereal Grace Clifford graced the stage clad in a red and black evening gown and a hush descended. We knew we were in for a treat as Sibelius’ violin concerto is regarded as one of the greatest ever composed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the violin sound so beautiful. 

Feather light strings open the first movement rendering a bed of sound for our soloist’s emotional and passionate statement. Winds join and build suspense.The second movement is tender and it was wonderful to watch the play of emotions on Grace’s face as she swayed along. She lovingly plucked the strings before catching a wave with the dance like themes in the difficult solo.

 I was fascinated watching her fingers move across the violin creating the sound you’d expect from several violinists. Both orchestra and soloist synchronised with the repetitive rhythms of the final ascent. The play between conductor and soloist was great to watch. It was a magical moment and one I will never forget. Fittingly Grace received several standing ovations for this epic performance. 

Last was the piece most familiar to me and which sent me out into the night waltzing my way back home. It was Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 in A. This piece is a patriotic work first premiered in 1813. Since that time listeners couldn’t get enough, particularly of the sparkling Allegretto. The dactyl which I’ve discovered is the word for the long – short short rhythm and the spondee ( long- long) build in intensity and are shared through the instrumental sections. This piece of music truly showcases the skills of the whole orchestra. You might recognise the Allegretto from movies, The King’s Speech and Mr Holland’s Opus. 

I don’t know how all members of the orchestra kept up as the final movement is extremely vigorous and ecstatic. It simply fills you with joy and wonder. The music feels as alive and lively as if it were written yesterday. I was amazed by the use of a contrabassoon played along with the double basses. I have never seen such an instrument in my life! Congratulations to Claire, who joined the orchestra’s amazing double bass section for the evening. 

This concert was invigorating and still had me smiling the next day. It was wonderful to watch the exciting young violinist, Grace Clifford with all her skill and palpable passion for the music. Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s next concert is Breathtaking Tchaikovsky on the 22nd and 23rd of October. I’m looking forward to seeing conductor, Johannes Fritzsch and Piers Lane as the piano soloist on the day. Let the music of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra carry you away.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.