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Exotic Music - HBO concert review 2017

Updated: Jun 13, 2018

Music by de Falla, Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov conducted by José Aparicio

St John’s Cathedral, Napier, Saturday 28 October 2017

Hawke's Bay Orchestra lead by Stephanie Buzzard

Soprano Anna Pierard

Reviewed by Peter Williams


Music by a Spanish composer, conducted by a compatriot, made the right start for this exotic programme. The two Three Cornered Hat Suites by de Falla are music from the ballet of the same name. The title refers to the shape of the hat worn by the lascivious magistrate – El Corregidor, the subject of the second dance from the first Suite. Percussion and brass gave an emphatic start to the item, followed by playing which always projected the character of Spanish music – intense rhythmic exactitude, vivid contrasts of orchestral colour, and the playing of solo and groups of instruments interacting within the music. José Aparicio certainly knew what was required and it was fascinating to observe his skill in direction. The final movement, where El Corregidor gets his comeuppance, made a brilliant conclusion to the item. The legendary collection of Arabian folk tales, One Thousand and One Nights, was the genesis for two versions of Scheherazade – first the song-cycle by French composer Maurice Ravel and secondly the expansive orchestral version by Russian Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Both are masterworks by composers who were each regarded as a master of his craft. Soprano Anna Pierard gave a consummate performance of the song-cycle where the purity of tone, the range covering every possible delicate nuance of expression and her complete involvement in the story being told, made this a performance to treasure. While the orchestra was too strong for the soloist at moments of climax in the first song, the playing always captured the spirit of the music and Dana Parkhill’s flute playing in the second song, The Magic Flute, was absolutely enchanting, The Rimsky-Korsakov version is very well known, as the Princess Scheherazade, represented by the eloquent solo violin playing from Orchestra Leader Stephanie Buzzard, and complemented by the haunting sounds of the harp played by Madeleine Crump, tells the stories which bewitch the cruel Sultan who each night kills one of his wives. From the start, the playing of each of the four movements held the audience entranced as they listened to an ever-evolving range of vivid orchestral sound, with a plethora of individual and group contributions from throughout the orchestra. With the demands of the Last Night of the Proms performances, as well as this extensive programme, Aparicio and all the members of the orchestra have every right to be delighted with what they have achieved. The rapturous standing ovation at the end clearly showed the delight of the audience.

#hbo

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