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  • Helen Gramotnev


Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven and Dvořák, conducted by star Israeli-American violinist Guy Braunstein, is a show that brings together two renowned works by classical music giants: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D (Op.61) and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No.8 in G (Op.88).

As Beethoven’s only concerto for violin and orchestra, this monumental work was written in a highly productive time of the composer’s life. Beethoven started and abandoned a violin concerto in the 1790s, and until 1806 his interest in concertos was primarily to write for himself as a soloist. But as his hearing loss increased, perhaps this fuelled his desire to put to paper as much music as he could. Braunstein masterfully led the QSO musicians in a journey of turbulent emotion, which (true to Beethoven’s reputation) breaks structural rules and surprises the audiences with beauty of the unexpected.

When the composer wrote “Allegro ma non troppo” (“fast but not too much”) for his opening movement, we may think he had a curious sense of humour. But under the direction of the charismatic soloist and conductor, the “nothingness” of the opening bars come to life, carrying the opening drumming motif to the end at exactly the right tempo. Continually switching between himself and conducting the orchestra, Braunstein fashioned a musical current that took on its own life form and pulsed through the orchestra and the audience.

Dvořák’s Symphony brought a change of Bohemian delights to the second half of the program. Its “promenade” quality provided a nice contrast to the emotional challenges of Beethoven, and in the third “allegretto grazioso” movement the orchestra reached a climax in its free-spirited waltzing rhythms.

The encores of Béla Bartók’s Hungarian dances – both solo and with the orchestra – were a special touch to complement the folkloric feel of the symphony. Seamlessly combining carefree freedom with bountiful virtuosity, Braunstein and the musicians of the QSO truly showed off their brilliance in yet another formidable concert in the QSO Maestro series for 2022.

Photography by Sam Muller.


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