A full house gathered on a stormy Friday morning to listen to a program of some of Tchaikovsky’s most breathtaking tunes. This concert had been postponed due to lockdowns, so audience members were rightfully excited to finally be experiencing one of the most highly anticipated concerts of the season. Conducted by Johannes Fritzsch, we were also treated to the beauty of piano soloist, Konstantin Shamray.
First was not Tchaikovsky but a piano concerto composed by Franz Liszt. Konstantin’s playing was so ethereal that it left many in the audience and even members of the orchestra in tears, such was the beauty of Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat. Konstantin Shamray, who studied music in Moscow, Russia played beautifully , his fingers dancing over the keys. He tackled this tremendously difficult piece with obvious joy.
This piece has three movements and moves from big and bold to quiet and focused. A duet between clarinet and piano delights. Phoebe Russell and the double bass crew relished the second movement where the mood changes as they play along with the cellos. The piano lilts away echoing the soft and flowing melody. The triangle exclaims and the music becomes faster and more energetic.
The final movement starts with a descending scale from the piano. This lively set is joined by the woodwind before ending In Liszt’s bold, loud and triumphant signature dazzling style. It was such a treat to watch the to and fro between Orchestra, Conductor and skilled pianist.
This was the first time I had seen Johannes conducting and he made it look effortless. His obvious respect and synchronicity with his orchestra was sublime to watch and he gave them such respect by lowering his baton in the final stanza and allowing them to ride the waves of music home. I will look forward to seeing him in action again as he works closely with the musicians through this year and beyond.
The second piece played was the last piece ever composed by Tchaikovsky, Symphony No.6 in B minor. It’s called ‘ Pathetique ‘ which means evoking pity and the piece does provoke feelings of sadness. This feeling is enhanced by the opening notes played on bassoon. A solo bassoon appears before being joined by the strings. The orchestra had a different seating configuration this time and the strings were split up which made for a very different listening experience. The music begins so dramatically and passionately before we hear the sadder side.
In the second movement the music skips along in an almost waltz like dance. By the third movement the brass are involved and a military fanfare is echoed.The fourth movement is slower and sadder and contains some of the most anguished music Tchaikovsky ever penned, one wonders if he knew his time was nigh.
Although I was unfamiliar with all the pieces played I found the emotions the music inspired in me to be very intense. The power of music to delight the audience was obvious as the smiling crowd excitedly chattered as they left our majestic Concert Hall. I heard the adjectives, ‘ sublime, heavenly and magical ‘ being uttered by many as we made our way home.
As the year comes to a close the Queensland Symphony Orchestra will feature Verdi with Opera Queensland in November, Song to Symphony and the Closing Gala – Four Last Songs, featuring Debussy and Strauss. Families are not forgotten with the Symphonic Santa 2021 in December.
Music is a joy and can often bring this writer to tears. We are so lucky to have an orchestra who are talented, playful and full of joy right here in Queensland and with each performance I am learning more and more. If you haven’t been to a morning concert I urge you to find a friend and head along. You will dance through your day.
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!).