Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall

Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

The TMO’s  Met Concert #1 was stunning! This first concert in the 2015 season contained a challenging programme of very well-known works from the Baroque and Classical eras. These challenges were met by the soloists, orchestra and conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with discipline, energy, artistry and genuine enthusiastic music-making. If this concert is an indication of what is to emerge from TMO in 2015, then its audiences are in for quite a year.

As in many previous Met Concert series, the format included works highlighting one of the orchestra’s principals and also a guest artist. TMO strings were showcased in both chamber music and string orchestra contexts. The string orchestra was augmented and inspired by the talented Australian violinist Lisa Stewart.

TMO Principal Clarinetist Andrew Doyle presented us with a fine Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K 581 with well-balanced playing from the TMO’s string quartet featuring Nataliya Lukich, Christina Ong, Luke Spicer and Steve Meyer.

Doyle illustrated from the first well-shaped Mozartean run why K581 is such a loved chamber music gem and an illustration of Mozart’s genius. Doyle’s beautiful chamber music sound quality moved with ease through Mozart’s filigree. Interplay with the strings was always interesting throughout. String parts comfortably joined in the dialogue at key structural points and thematic returns were nicely emphasised. Contrasts of tonality so important to the time period were clearly and expressively delineated.

The treasured Larghetto second movement’s melodic line in clarinet floated exquisitely above the accompaniment. The ensemble’s change of characterisation for the third movement Menuetto and Trios was robust and satisfying, whilst the last movement Theme and Variations was a significant live music display of Mozart’s adventures in this form.

In a concert without interval, the audience was led into the Baroque orchestral repertoire following the eloquence of the Mozart. The concert concluded with no less than Vivaldi’s Four Seasons featuring firework-like tutti energy, colourful painting of scenes and knife-edge nuances. Solo violinist Lisa Stewart was a dynamic addition to TMO strings, weaving her part virtuosically and thoughtfully about the firm orchestral textures.

This was exciting yet disciplined Vivaldi, never overdone or underplayed. An extremely evocative, cohesive Four Seasons resulted from the links between soloist, orchestral players and Sarah-Grace Williams’ effective interpretation. The ache of famous still moments throughout were well measured, and the delivery of all sections in broad sensible strokes ensuring subsequent large outbursts was thrilling.

This was solid, dramatic Vivaldi, employing decent sized instrumental forces. Its crisp music shone and penetrated with appropriate force and direction from stage to audience. The power of the violin with string family was much celebrated, as Vivaldi would have enjoyed.

The audience reaction to hearing this classic live and to TMO strings devouring a major Baroque favourite completed the memorable performance event with further excitement.

The next Met Concert on 2 May is a complete change of pace, illustrating the versatility of this orchestra. It also promises to entertain at a high level. Pianist Bernard Walz teams up with TMO for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.This concert also features a work by Kodaly and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

For more about THE MET ORCHESTRA- MET CONCERT 1, visit the Met’s official website:-