James EhnesLeft - James Ehnes

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s From the New World is a concert infused with the mythology of worlds past and present.

Conducted by Norway’s Eivind Aadland, From the New World presents Jean Sibeluis’ The Oceanides, Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, and concludes with Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, B.178 (Op. 95) From the New World.

Inspired by the nymphs which populate the Mediterranean of Homer, Sibelius’ The Oceanides is a tranquil symphonic poem impressively rendered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The Oceanides has been described as an“impressionistic work” in which “[f]lutes and harps dominate a diaphanous soundscape, while the string figures are frequently onomatopoeic”. The violins ascend gradually, trembling at times, before its sound culminates at a plateau of gentle flight. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s delineation of The Oceanides gives credence to Sibelius’ paramount interest of “placing his main melodic ideas (his Oceanides, perhaps) in an evolving series of musical surroundings”.

Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade is a piece for strings, harp, percussion and solo violin, played by Canada’s James Ehnes.
Serenade was informed by the story of Plato’s Symposium, an “ancient dialogue between guests at an imaginary Greek banquet” . Soloist James Ehnes represents the host of the banquet who provokes debate amongst the other guests. Ehnes’ rendering of the host is graceful and wonderfully skilled. The interchange which he stimulates with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is vibrant and engaging. Significantly, rather than being “taken as anachronistic Greek party-music”, Bernstein had mused that Serenade should be viewed “as the natural expression of a contemporary American composer imbued with the spirit of that timeless dinner-party”. Accordingly, Serenade is an apt precursor to the final piece in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s New World program.

Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, B.178 (Op.95) From the New World was performed following the intermission. Composed by Dvorak was in New York in 1893, the piece is infused with “strong non-musical impressions of America which doubtless crowded the composer’s mind … the frenetic bustle of New York, the seething cauldron of humanity in the metropolis, and the simple folk caught up in the impersonal whirl”. Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 is a swirling fusion of melody and energetic rhythm, containing soaring violins and climactic brass which bring the concert to a triumphant close.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Friday 25 July at 8pm
Deakin University, Costa Hall, Geelong
Bookings: GPAC on 5225 1200

Saturday 26 July at 2pm
Monday 28 July at 8pm
the Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
Bookings: www.mso.com.au or Ticketmaster on 1300 136 166

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