Amalia and Friends
Presented by: Orchestra Wellington
St Andrew’s on the Terrace, 13th Jun 2020
Reviewed by: Dawn Brook
This concert was the second of three programmes featuring Mozart violin concertos and symphonies, designed for COVID-19 Level 2 conditions, with each concert to be performed twice to audiences of a hundred. The concerts are free. Orchestra Wellington is to be congratulated for their enterprise and generosity. Fans have responded enthusiastically. They packed St Andrew’s Church after extra tickets were made available following the shift to COVID-19 Level 1.
I understand that the decision to mount the three Amalia and Friends programmes was made only weeks ago and that the opportunities to rehearse together have been minimal. There was the potential for mishap perhaps, especially given the light direction provided to the orchestra by Amalia Hall as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 and as orchestra leader in the same composer’s Symphony No. 38 Prague.
Maybe there were a few points where the orchestra’s balance and cohesion were not perfect, and perhaps the second movement of the symphony was a bit laboured, but in the circumstances the players did themselves and Mozart credit. The audience was treated to a very engaging concert in an intimate environment similar, as the concert programme notes pointed out, to that which audiences in the late 1700s would have experienced with Mozart himself as soloist and conductor.
As soloist, Amalia Hall’s beautifully constructed phrasing, the sweetness of tone on higher strings, the colour in her double-stopping on lower strings, and the brilliance of the cadenzas contributed to a lovely performance. The orchestra provided a fine, committed performance throughout, but particularly in the rollicking, teasing, vigorous third movement.
For the Prague symphony, flutes, bassoons, timpani, and trumpets joined the strings, oboes, and horns which played in the concerto. This was a fine performance with plenty of contrast, energy, and intensity, with a wonderfully fiery and frenetic ending.