Review: 'NZSO makes a play for populism'

 With the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Brett Mitchell presented an Italian program featuring violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and a  Bernstein at 100  celebration featuring vocalist Morgan James.

With the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Brett Mitchell presented an Italian program featuring violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and a Bernstein at 100 celebration featuring vocalist Morgan James.

The New Zealand Herald has posted a review of Brett Mitchell's two recent programs with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra:

In two Auckland concerts this month, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made a palpable play for populism.

Bernstein at 100...[featured] Lenny on the light side, with most of the music coming from his Broadway shows. Denver-based maestro Brett Mitchell proved to be a lively host in his spoken introductions and drove the mighty music machine that is the NZSO with elan.

It was a shame the musical voyage to sunny Italy didn't encourage sufficient punters out into Auckland's squally weather, meaning that they missed what the programme booklet promised to be a magnificent account of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. In fact, it was delightful, re-affirming the perennial pleasures of this piece with its dazzling succession of fires, storms, pastoral contentment and domestic bliss, all rendered in music. All this was nicely caught by a smaller band of players together with soloist Angelo Xiang Yu.

After interval, the big guns came out. Mitchell took the orchestra for a thrilling ride through Berlioz's Roman Carnival, its bold, idiosyncratic harmonies and scoring emphasising why this composer remains a key figure in 19th century music.

The evening ended by Mitchell presenting Respighi's Pines of Rome as an unashamed musical spectacular. All we needed to do was relax and be dazzled, without worrying too much about what lay behind it. The ultimate reward was one of the grandest sunrises ever, splendidly assisted by a contingent from the Wellington Brass Band.

To read the complete review, please click here.