Tag Archives: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra


Don Juan, Vier letzte Lieder, Also sprach Zarathustra

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

TPT: 73’ 46 ‘‘

ABC 481 1122

reviewed by Neville Cohn


This is a sumptuous recording of Don Juan. It impresses from the very first seconds, its opening measures metaphorically sweeping this listener off his feet. Immense, focussed energy launches the piece in an electrifying, frankly thrilling start – and unfolds no less impressively.


SMP MSO - Strauss Don Juan, Four Last Songs, Also sprach ZarathustraSo often, ‘live’ concert recordings disappoint – but not this one. For much of the time, it is in the best sense satisfying, as much due to the skill of the sound engineers as the orchestral players and conductor Sir Andrew Davis.


From first note to last, one senses complete absorption in the work on the part of both conductor and orchestra – and, let us be frank, the sound engineers. The latter, in their crucial role, were clearly on their toes; it’s a recording that does very real justice to the players – and to Strauss. Very occasionally, string tone might have been a shade cleaner. But attack and follow-through were everything one could have hoped for.


Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra is given a no-less-meaningful reading with a thrilling introduction, expressed with the sort of hackle-raising intensity which draws the listener ineluctably into the composer’s unique mood and sound universe. Its hushed ending is finely considered.


Strauss’Vier letzte Lieder – Four Last Songs – that wondrously autumnal, bittersweet leave-taking of the world, is some of the most profoundly moving music ever committed to paper. Here, the MSO and Davis do wonders with the score, its nostalgia-drenched measures everything one could hope for. Horn playing is wondrously fine in ‘September’. The singing, though, for all its many merits, does not fully evoke the intrinsic melancholy of the work as effectively as the accompaniment – and the vocal line is not quite secure in ‘Fruhling’ and loses power at the nadir of the range in Beim Schlafengehen.



Oboe Concerto (Ross Edwards)

oboeOboe Concerto (Ross Edwards); Yanada; Ulpina

Diana Doherty (oboe)
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

ABC Classics 476 7173
TPT: 00:23:18



reviewed by Neville Cohn


This represents a splendid confluence of talents – of top Australian composer Ross Edwards, ace oboist Diana Doherty and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer.

Ross Edwards’ highly idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable compositional style is employed to engaging effect in his recent Oboe Concerto, recently given its USA premiere in New York.

In this recording, made in June 2004 in Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University, Doherty is in her usual impeccable form. She sounds utterly authoritative here from the opening measures which take in a series of unaccompanied flourishes. The seemingly effortless command of the instrument, expressed in a stream of finely pitched, pure and luminous sound, engages the attention instantly. An often elaborate solo line is complemented by dainty orchestral seasonings.

Edwards’ concerto is in a single movement and its 18-minute-long duration seems all too short. Whether slow and pensive, teasing or puckish, the concerto is a rich repository of some of Edwards’ most diverting, invariably accessible ideas, delights and fascinates the ear as the work oscillates between exotic, faux-Arabian measures and hauntingly elfin episodes – and syncopated rhythms on wood blocks and a wildly abandoned dance-type finale adding another dimension of listening pleasure. I would be surprised if the work fails to find a place in the standard repertoire.

Yanada is another delight, a four-minute unaccompanied excursion into a quietly reflective world, given deeply expressive treatment by Doherty. Ulpirra is utterly different mood-wise with its darting, perky, mischievous

Copyright 2005 Neville Cohn