‘Beethoven and Dvorak’ was melodic.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra welcomed violinist and conductor Guy Braunstein back to Brisbane in this concert featuring works from both Beethoven and Dvorak. After delays due to COVID-19, Braunstein was finally able to take the stage as violin soloist and conductor.
The first half of the concert featured Beethoven’s ‘Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra’. This violin concerto is made up of three movements. It oscillated between minimalism and ornate flourishes. The bassoon and oboe heralded the start of the first movement and ushered in the solo violin. During the second movement, the orchestra held a sustained note while the violinist’s skilful and nimble fingers floated over the strings in the cadenza passage. The speed of the music throughout this passage was intense and showcased Braunstein’s talent and adeptness. The final movement encompassed more of the orchestra, especially the brass section. This, combined with the solo violinist, brought the Concerto to its melodious conclusion.
The second half of the concert saw Braunstein swap his violin for baton as he conducted the orchestra through Dvorak’s ‘Symphony No. 8’. This symphony is in contrast with the classic and technical first work by Beethoven, and draws heavily from lilting Bohemian folk music, evoking memories of rustling leaves and flying birds. The flutes in the first movement chirped like birds and the sound of the strings elicited images of sunsets and lazy afternoons. The waltz tempo of the second movement was deeper, richer and more intense than the first, and served as a palette cleanser before the final movement. Brass featured heavily in the final movement of the piece, heralding the ending of the Symphony. The flurry of bows dancing across instruments was almost as mesmerising to watch as the sounds that were being produced. The symphony ended with a rapturous and satisfying finale.
With his violin in one hand and bow in the other, Braunstein multi-tasked with ease as he led the musicians through the works, all without the use of any sheet music. For almost two hours, he commanded the orchestra with an intimate knowledge of the work that came entirely from his memory. It was joyous to see a master at work, commanding such a vibrant and accomplished orchestra such as this one.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra always excels, regardless of the material they choose to showcase in their concerts. Here, led by the renowned Braunstein, and playing technically and physically demanding pieces, the immense talent of the orchestra was on dazzling display.
‘Beethoven and Dvorak’ performed until Saturday, 15 October 2022 at QPAC. For more information about Queensland Symphony Orchestra visit their website.