Beethoven playing out of the top drawer
“Beautifully balanced, relaxed, yet pointed, this was Beethoven playing out of the top drawer.” John Button, The Dominion Post
The Vector Wellington Orchestra’s concerts have been building up all year to a final concert that features the dreams of an empire and the Emperor of concertos.
"We've had a year of fantastic music-making, but this our biggest concert and one we've been building towards,” music director Marc Taddei says.
Michael Houstoun performs Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, the Emperor, and the VWO recalls the Roman Empire in Respighi’s triumphant Pines of Rome. In between, Duke Ellington’s suite from The River uses a river’s journey to the sea as a metaphor for life. Originally written as music for a ballet, The River proves that Ellington’s ear for melody and colour extended far beyond the world of jazz and big bands.
"There is more power per square inch in Beethoven's Emperor concerto than in any other two piano concertos put together,” says Houstoun. Taddei agrees, adding that few pieces balance their appeal to the heart and the head so perfectly.
“It’s filled with the drama and passion of the great Romantics, and demands a virtuosic display from the pianist,” Taddei says.
Respighi’s Pines of Rome makes a massive finale to the year’s concerts. This exciting work, filled with centuries of history, wanders from the hushed stillness of the Janiculum at night, filled with the softness of cedars and nightingales, to the haunting plainsong of the monks of the Eternal City. Respighi captures timeless snatches of song from children playing at soldiers, and draws us into the past where the real soldiers of the Roman legions march on the Appian Way.
The VWO will be joined by top Wellington brass players from the Central Band of the RNZAF and the Titan Hutt City Brass Band. They’ll add brilliant colour and blazing power to one of the most brilliantly scored works of the 20th century.
For listeners in outlying areas, the orchestra has a special deal to make concerts more convenient. The VWO Bus Package gives best available seating and a return ticket direct to the Wellington Town Hall, with complimentary tea and biscuits on arrival. It’s $59 from the Kapiti Coast and $69 from the Wairarapa. Call 04 801 3882 to book.