Clarinet Classics with Michael Collins

Matinée Series Two – Saturday 15 August 2015, 5:00 pm and Sunday 16 August, 3:00 pm
King’s and Queen’s Performing Arts Centre

Simon Over, Conductor; Michael Collins, Clarinet

John Ritchie: Concertino for Clarinet and String Orchestra
John Ritchie: Suite No. 1 for Strings
Weber: Clarinet Concertino
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7


A spirited performance from the Southern Sinfonia and clarinet soloist Michael Collins was a fitting tribute to late New Zealand composer John Ritchie.

A father-figure in New Zealand music, Ritchie died in 2014, which was acknowledged by the Sinfonia in its selection of two of his pieces – Concertino for Clarinet and String Orchestra and Suite No. 1 for String Orchestra – for the final concerts in its 2015 matinée series at the weekend.

A pastoral, dancing and joyous work, Ritchie’s Concertino was safe in the sure and skilful hands of Collins, who gave it a sparkling performance with sterling support from the orchestra.

Ritchie’s Suite No.1 for String Orchestra had quite a filmic feel, with spacious and dreamy moments contrasting with exuberant and jazzy passages. Under the baton of principal guest conductor Simon Over, the Sinfonia gave a sensitive performance of this lovely work.

Collins returned to the stage for the final piece in a busy first half with Carl Maria von Weber’s exciting Clarinet Concertino No. 1 in F Minor. In the concert’s second half, the Southern Sinfonia players rose magnificently to the challenge of tackling Beethoven’s “heroic” and joyous Symphony No. 7. Under the expert guidance of Over, the orchestra’s performance was accurate, nuanced, and high-spirited.

All in all, a thoroughly engaging and entertaining concert.

Reviewed by Brenda Harwood for The Star, Thursday 20 August 2015.

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