Long but entertaining night from Orchestra Wellington and Arohanui Strings

Long but entertaining night from Orchestra Wellington and Arohanui Strings

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Prokofiev would have loved pianist Jian Liu and Orchestra Wellington’s rendition of his Piano Concerto No. 1.

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Prokofiev would have loved pianist Jian Liu and Orchestra Wellington’s rendition of his Piano Concerto No. 1.

Orchestra Wellington conducted by Marc Taddei; Arohanui Strings conducted by Luka Venter; with Jian Liu (piano). Music by Long, Suk, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. Michael Fowler Centre, October 17. Reviewed by John Button.

It may have been election night, but there were the usual 2000-plus patrons present for this long and eventful concert. And it was long – nearly three hours.

But there were reasons.

This was the once yearly concert at which we heard the youngsters of the Arohanui Strings – and an interesting piece by Alissa Long. There were also two seating changes, much amusing and informative chat from conductor Marc Taddei and, later, more chat outlining Orchestra Wellington’s usual innovative booking system for next year’s concerts.

READ MORE:
* Review: Orchestra Wellington conducted by Marc Taddei with Michael Houstoun
* Review: Orchestra Wellington conducted by Marc Taddei with Michael Houstoun
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And then there was the programme proper; three works of some substance, none of which figure in concerts very often.

Josef Suk’s Serenade for Strings was composed when he was just 18, and is a far cry from his later works – works that arose from the shock of the sudden death of both his wife and her father, his teacher Dvorak and his daughter Otilie. The Serenade is a lovely, melodic, carefree piece that received a fine performance.

Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was also composed when the composer was very young, and is a spiky vehicle designed to show of the composer’s considerable piano technique.

Jian Liu is, as we all know, a superb pianist, and, backed by sharp orchestral playing, he gave us a performance that the composer would have loved.

And his encore – Rachmaninov – showed his superb poetic instincts.

Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony, dates from later in his life after he settled in America, and, while still highly romantic in his somewhat melancholic style, it is tautened with an orchestration that has many a sharp edge.

The work suits Taddei and his orchestra, and they finished a long night with some brilliant playing.

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