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  • Helen Gramotnev

ON THE JOURNEY WITH DON QUIXOTE


Queensland Symphony Orchestra never shies away from a challenge when it comes to presenting works to both seasoned and novice audiences. The most recent installment in the Maestro series features Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.24 with the incomparable Piers Lane as the soloist, and an intricate combination of music and literature in a theatrical presentation of Don Quixote, Cervantes’s seminal novel.


Opening with the piano concerto, a smaller selection from the orchestra works graciously and seemingly with the star pianist. Lane never disappoints in his musical interpretation, and with the perfect balance, clarity, and execution his Mozart rings and shines like high quality crystal. Pure perfection! Lane brings to his playing contagious warmth and humour, which is ever more evident in the encore pieces he chooses to play for his audiences. This time it was John Constable’s Barcarolle written for the silent film Bardelys the Magnificent, depicting a boat trip of two want-to-be lovers. The piece proved a delightful break between the two orchestral works and showed off Lane’s superb skills as a pianist.


The second half of the evening was dedicated to a theatrical display of Richard Strauss’s tone poem Don Quixote. Written in 1897, the piece is a challenging amalgamation of classic ideas and modernist experiments. Written in 10 parts, it features a cello as Don Quixote, and a viola as his servant and side-kick Sancho Panza. This was a chance for the two principals of the QSO, Hyung Suk Bae (cello) and Imants Larsens (viola) to shine as the orchestra soloists. The performance – supported by the theatrics of actor Eugene Gilfedder narrating as dead author Miguel de Cervantes, and artworks depicting the various adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho – offers an artistically rich and entertaining performance. The Don, through his absurd and outrageous quests, may never become a heroic knight, but this QSO production certainly accomplishes its ambitions of bringing music to life in a partnership with theatre, poetry, and art.

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