Rodrigo’s Guitar Concierto

Matinée Series One – Saturday 5 July 2014, 5:00 pm and Sunday 6 July, 3:00 pm
King’s and Queen’s Performing Arts Centre

Kenneth Young, Conductor; Karin Schaupp, Guitar

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides Overture
Butterworth: The Banks of Green Willow
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
Kenneth Young: Douce Tristesse
Mozart: Symphony No. 39


On a deeply chilly mid-winter’s day, a large audience was transported to sunnier climes in the first of two matinee series concerts by the Southern Sinfonia.

Presenting a busy programme under the baton of New Zealand conductor Kenneth Young, the sinfonia launched into the concert with Mendelssohn’s soaring, evocative Hebrides Overture. The work took a while towarm up, but soon resolved into a stirring performance, with lovely woodwind highlights.

Woodwind was to the fore again in fine style in The Banks of Green Willow, a beautiful and poignant work by English composer George Butterworth, who was killed in World War 1.

Guitar soloist Karin Schaupp then joined the orchestra for the much-anticipated Concierto de Aranjuez, by Spanish composer Rodrigo. In the expert hands of a true master of her instrument, and with the orchestra providing sterling, sensitive support, this stunning, deeply emotional work had the audience transfixed.

It would have been easy for the orchestra to have overwhelmed the relatively quiet guitar, but subtle amplification ensured every exquisite note could be heard.

Brought back by tumultuous applause, Schaupp followed up with another fabulous performance, a solo rendition of Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Fancisco Tarrega.

Hearing the astonishing Schaupp perform two such beautiful, riveting works was a rare treat indeed. It is to be hoped she returns soon.

In the second half – after many in the audience took the chance to step out of the sweltering hall and cool down – Young conducted the sinfonia in a performance of his own piece, Douce Tristesse [Sweet Sadness]. Another pastoral-feeling work, which celebrates the memory of a beautiful piece of New Zealand landscape, the piece gave each section of the orchestra a chance to shine.

The concert concluded with a brisk performance of Mozart’s much-loved Symphony No 39, giving the music a suitably light and bright feel.

After such a sunny (and very warm) concert, stepping out into the cold and dark was a bit of a shock. Warm memories of some special music-making sustained the audience home to the fireside.

Reviewed by Brenda Harwood for The Star, Thursday, 10 July 2014.

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