Review: 'Making a familiar piece sound fresh to jaded ears'

 Brett Mitchell led an Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at Auckland Town Hall on May 19.

Brett Mitchell led an Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at Auckland Town Hall on May 19.

Scoop (New Zealand) has published a review of Brett Mitchell's Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at Auckland Town Hall on Saturday, May 19:

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which I haven’t heard live in over a decade, was every bit as enjoyable. Conductor Brett Mitchell did what I think is essential on these occasions, which is to try to make a familiar piece sound fresh to jaded ears.

Mitchell’s approach was to strip the orchestra right back, and it paid dividends. Everything was sharp and crisp, and the dynamics shifted precisely from level to level in the period manner, rather than being finally gradated. The soloist, young Chinese virtuoso Angelo Xiang Yu, also eschewed the traditional approach, producing instead a thrilling range of tones and timbres, from the sweetly soft to the frankly jagged.

After the interval came Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, continuing the (very loose) Italian theme. Again, this was very well conducted, Mitchell’s unobtrusive style allowing the music to flow up out of the orchestra, as it were. It’s not a piece I knew at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought the central cor anglais melody was beautifully played.

To read the complete review, please click here.