Once again Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) delivers a unique program. As the orchestra introduces the evening with Franz Schmidt’s “Intermezzo” from “Notre Dame” opera – a calm, beautiful introduction to an evening ready to wow.
With the audiences warmed up by the interlude characterising Esmeralda (the beautiful gypsy who is moved by Quasimodo), it is time for the guest soloist to enter the stage. Chad Hoopes is a relatively new name on the international stage, but we are certain you will hear much more of him in the coming years. Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto is a gorgeous journey through the full range of capabilities of this gut-wrenching instrument (that’s why we love it so much!). Starting off with melodic, soulful tunes of the first movement, it moves into a conversation with the orchestral instruments in its second, where the violin begins to rise above the orchestral harmonies. It is in its final movement that the violin gains its full strength, where combinations of strings with percussion allows for a musical galop of flurry, desperation and gusto. A full range of emotions that allows the violin to really soar.
The quality of this rising star fully reveals itself in his encore. As Hoopes moved through his solo piece, his bow lightly shimmers over the strings, producing a beautifully complete sound. His seamlessly assembled, exquisite melody is supported by simultaneous staccato harmonies. (Yes, all coming from the one violin!) The hall is dead quiet and holding its breath in trepidation of missing some tiny and delicate note needed to complete this perfect arrangement. At just 23 years old, Chad Hoopes has a bright future ahead of him, and it will be exciting to see what this talented violinist will produce in the coming years!
As the orchestra settles into its final number of the night, Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dances”, the audience are taken on a journey of soulful Russian melodies. “Symphonic Dances” bring together a multitude of instruments on stage – Rachmaninov’s compositional skills are certainly on show in this piece, with an impressive percussion section and a piano that is clearly heard and generously utilised throughout the piece. (Rachmaninov’s pianism cannot be escaped even in a symphonic work!) As the melodies overlap and ripple through the orchestra, the concertmaster Warwick Adeney gives us a glimpse of his own impressive flair on the violin. The orchestra builds to a stirring finale, with the unmistakably Russian melodies reassuring us like a Russian Bogatyr triumphing over evil.
No time to snooze – this is a piece that grabs your attention and holds it to the last note. Its “rhythmical pizzazz” is a credit to QSO, once again demonstrating its versatility.
Photography by Peter Wallis