- Helen Gramotnev
Conductor Alexander Prior and pianist Sergio Tiempo make a powerful statement backed by the musicians of Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO). ‘Dynamic duo’ is the perfect description for these young music professionals who take us on an emotional journey of classical gems.
As the evening starts with the longing melodies of Claude Debussy’s Prélude á "L’après-midi d’un faune" (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), the conductor’s generous and persuasive movements submerge us in Debussy’s dreamy harmonies. The instruments call out to each other: a flute starts off, followed by oboes, then horn and clarinet. The gentle conversation pulls the audience along, relaxing and engaging the ear at the same time.
The 25 year old Alexander Prior is a delight to watch! Graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory and winner of multiple fellowships and awards, he seems to push through the waves of Debussy as he boldly cuts the air with his baton. His commanding presence instils full confidence in his control of both the orchestra and the music. This inspiring young conductor also boasts notable music compositions, such as Mowgli (a ballet performed by Moscow State Ballet in 2008) and a major symphonic work Putl’lt recently performed by the Edmonton Symphony.
As the evening continues with Piano Concerto No.1 by Alberto Ginastera, the virtuosity of the QSO musicians does not disappear behind the soloist’s spotlight. As Venezuelan pianist Sergio Tiempo boldly strides his way through the concerto, the piano and the orchestra fly through the full range of emotions from pastoral melodies to explosive percussive finale, with rhythms from Argentinian Malambo continuously dominating the last movement. And if you have not heard of Ginastera or his Piano Concertos, the Prior-Tiempo duo is a brilliant way of getting your introductions to Argentinian classical music.
As Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No.4 rounds off the evening, it is time for strings to soar. The architectural monumentality of this symphony combined with powerful harmonies, takes the emotion to the Romantic high. Brahms’s last symphony roller coasts through its four movements, letting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra indulge in its stormy finale.
Photography by Peter Wallis.