Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Review: Scheherazade sparkles … but Lalo?

Review: Scheherazade sparkles … but Lalo?


New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Friday, June 17

Reviewer: Max Rashbrooke

It’s a curiosity of artistic discourse that Orientalism is viewed with suspicion in many disciplines, but not in classical music. A European painter or fashion designer appropriating imagery from, say, China, might be taken to task, but no-one thinks twice about a work like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, inspired by the composer’s desire to capture “oriental music in its natural state”.

Mind you, I think it would be hard to imagine someone taking offence at music that is so far from condescending. It has no clichéd imitations of the sound of muezzins or an Eastern ‘street scene’.

Rather, its thematic source is the 1001 nights and the Sultana’s famous tales of adventure; it paints pictures of sailing on high seas, of princes and princesses.

The NZSO turned in a truly wonderful performance of this piece, under the energetic and passionate – but still controlled – guidance of guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Everything was in balance, the crashing brass phrases given equal weight to the light arabesques of the solitary violin, and the power and energy of the sea-borne movements matched by the calm of the later passages. The shading and colour were magnificent; by the end I felt carried away, much as the composer probably intended, head full of visions of desert sand and ships under sail.

The opening piece of the concert, Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, was also a delight, alternately lush and dancing. More disappointing for me, however, was the second piece, Lalo’s Cello Concerto,

played by visiting young star Johannes Moser. To my ears it’s a strange piece, spotted through with lovely moments and colours but not hanging together as a whole. The last movement, for instance, starts by promising something angular and Gypsy-ish (a sound that Moser brought out very well), but never delivers on that promise.

Despite the NZSO’s best efforts, the piece often felt disconnected and unconvincing. And Moser’s playing in the opening passages was a little too much all-of- one-tone; some more variety and gentleness would have been appreciated. That he has great talent was obvious from his solo encore, the sarabande from one of Bach’s cello suites, which was played with great sensitivity and delicacy, but it didn’t feel as if we’d got to hear the best of his ability.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Kakī: World’s Rarest Wading Bird Released In Mackenzie Basin

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the birds will add to the 60 released into the Tasman valley earlier this month, significantly boosting the wild population. More>>


IHC Tribute: Colin Meads

"While Colin is best known for rugby, to us he is one of a small number of distinguished IHC New Zealand Life Members recognised for their significant support for people with intellectual disabilities," says IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones. More>>


Howard Davis Review: Tilting at Turbines - The Trip to Spain

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have now both broken the Big Fifty barrier, which seems to have brought a whole new level of angst to their midlife adventures ... More>>

Review: A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has accepted the challenge of this heart-touching tragedy and largely succeeded. More>>


NZ's First Male IAAF Gold: Tom Walsh's Historic Shot Put Victory

Although feeling very sore but with a great feeling Tom Walsh took his place as number one on the victory dais to receive his much deserved gold medal. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Hard To Find Books

"Unfortunately we are in crisis and this friendly dinosaur faces extinction… Our only hope is to try and raise funds to buy the building and restore it to its glory, either fully funded or with a viable deposit." More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland