The Height of Spring | Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra

 

WPO Sept 2019 IMG_0034

Image by Geoff Sirmai

To welcome in the new season, Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra invited soloist Darcy Dauth for four pieces encapsulating the uplifting and joyful atmosphere of springtime. From the mid-19th to mid-20th century these pieces grow in grandeur like the bursting of spring sunshine on a fine September weekend.

After a rocky start with a disjointed short piece from Igor Stravinsky with heavy horn and woodwind, the second piece titled “Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F Minor” by Antonin Dvorak captured the light, airy mood of springtime. For this piece Darcy Dauth lead the orchestra with a clean and crisp violin solo that showed off his playing precision. There was a breezy freedom to this piece with plenty of string involvement to represent the movement of butterflies, easy spring sunlight, and other gentle natural scenes in the imagination of springtime.

The following piece composed by Maurice Ravel “Tzigane” opened with an unusually long violin solo with a grungier style that played with the rawer tones of the violin to create a completely different emotional atmosphere. Combined with the semi-improvised inclusion of the harp played by Marjorie Maydwell, the resonance of this piece sat much deeper than the previous. Other quirks included tapping and plucking at the string instruments mimicking a spring storm. In comparison to the Dvorak, these two pieces work to build a full imagery of springtime including the gentle reflective moments and grander celebratory sounds, too.

For the closing piece, the orchestra finished with a bang. Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 1 ‘Spring'” opens with a heraldic combination of brass instruments that quickly welcomes in the rest of the orchestra. This is a much bigger piece than the others included in this program with a grander reach of sound as though the program was building towards this final celebration. Across each movement, though, the composition seemed to follow a practised pattern of hills and troughs, each containing a climax that overall blended into the same. Considering the tonal variety and interest in the previous programmed pieces, the Schumann appears a very conventional piece but no less impressive for that.

And with that, spring has begun!

The Height of Spring was performed at St Columba Uniting Church from September 14th – 15th

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