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  • Helen Gramotnev


When the planets align, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra once again brings an evening of grandeur, inspiration, pure satisfaction! Under the commanding baton of South Korean conductor Shiyeon Sung, and with the support of guest artists soprano Sara Macliver and the Australian Voices, Queensland Symphony Orchestra presented a powerful performance combining Richard Wagner, Osvaldo Golijov and Gustav Holst.

Opening the concert with Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser (Dresden version), we felt the power of the German Romanticism: love, lust, desperation, death, and abandon cry out through the instruments’ voices as the orchestra sets us up for an evening of triumphant excitement and pure passion.

Continuing with Golojov’s Three Songs, the emotional journey continues with Jewish-Gypsy lullaby, in which the individual instruments seem to call out to one another, as if conversing from a distance. The melodies fluctuate between staccato and legato rhythms, accentuating the sense of urgency, while the elongated phrases pull away from harmonies and then return to them again, like a rocking baby cradle. The star soprano, Sara Macliver, completes the experience with her crystal-clear voice that carries the audience like an angel through heaven, singing to the moon in Lua descolorida and then suspending us mid-air with the final song, How slow the wind.

The final work, the monumental Planets by Holst, are a triumph on every level. Consisting of seven movements, the work draws inspiration from the planets in our solar system, combined with ancient mythological gods. Opening with a bang – incarnation of Mars, the Bringer of War, the sound marches through the audience. Then comes Venus, the Bringer of Peace, like a sun that comes out after a violent storm: gently the instruments call out to each other, as if checking to see fi they made it through the night. The soothing melodies turn into call-and-response of reassurance, with even a metallic glockenspiel making an appearance in the enormous orchestra. Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune continue to bring their individuality to the composition: the winged messenger, the jolly fellow, the cautioning bringer of Old Age, the mischievous magician, and the mystic revealing hidden secrets.

This performance is strong, unified and a real triumph for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, firmly securing the state orchestra on the world music stage. It will be hard to top this particular program, but we look forward to their attempts – when the planets once again align, and magic happens!


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