Review: 'Spectacular centenary concert for Leonard Bernstein from the NZSO'

 Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

Middle C (New Zealand) has published a review of Brett Mitchell's 'Bernstein At 100' concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11:

American conductor Brett Mitchell who I’d heard in a lively, Broadway-style interview on Upbeat at midday, entered and immediately launched into a startling performance of Dance of the Great Lover, the first of the three dances from On the Town which rather astonished me for the super-raunchy, trumpet-attacks from nowhere, then throaty trombones, cutting clarinets. There was nothing symphonically genteel about it and Mitchell exclaimed at its end, “the NZSO can swing!” I have sometimes dismissed remarks from conductors tackling this genre of American music, that the orchestra has a great feeling for its brazen energy, the rhythms and attack, as if the entire band had served its musical apprenticeship on Broadway. Here such praise seemed totally justified.

The Symphonic Dances from West Side Story is a more standard concert work that captures the vitality, violence, anger and occasional calm lyricism (‘Somewhere’ and the Finale) of the score and the orchestra’s playing exhibited all those characteristics with tremendous energy and unflagging precision. Finger-clicking, a shrill whistle... Nowhere more vividly than in the riotous ‘Mambo’ where the only missing element was the dancers. 

To read the complete review, please click here.