Nelson Mail, July 22 2013
Youthful grace and exuberance thrill
Auckland Youth Orchestra, with musical director Antun Poljanich. Winter Festival, Nelson School of Music, yesterday. Reviewed by Judith Paviell
It’s a joy for this reviewer to put a name to a familiar melody when hearing it played live. This happened yesterday when percussionist Laurence McFarlane stepped down from the timpani to the auditorium floor to perform the solo from Vittorio Monti’s Czardas.
Beautifully backed by the orchestra, McFarlane’s flashing hands worked magic skipping from the deeper-toned marimba to the sharper-voiced xylophone, then the delicate, dulcet glockenspiel, changing pace and momentum on each before finishing frenetically on the xylophone.
Saint-Saen’s Havanaise Op 83 continued the Spanish theme, solo violinist Richard Chen demonstrating mastery in the exquisite, winsome rendering of romance and longing from his soft-voiced violin.
After the interval, the orchestra met the technical challenges of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 with elegance and discipline. With perfect timing the musicians answered demands of sudden changes in volume and rhythm, harmony and discord, rushing on from the fascinating 3 movement to a triumphant finale that brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.
Director Antun Poljanich, who seemed exhausted from his exuberant conducting, deeply appreciated this reception.
His passion and sensitivity are reflected in the obvious rapport with his musicians who sent us home with a delightful encore of Czardas and McFarlane’s flying hands.