Venue: Chan Centre
Date: Friday 31 October, Saturday 1 November 2003 8.00pm

Reviewer: Lois Carter






Conductor: Kazuyoshi Akiyama Cello Denise Djokic 
Mozart Overture to The Magic Flute Haydn Cello Concerto in D Major Handel/Harty Water Music Suite Arriaga Symphony in D major


Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Conductor Emeritus of the VSO and winner of Japan's highest honour (the Emperor's Award), stepped confidently on to the stage of the Chan Centre to conduct tonight's performance.

This small diminutive figure with elegant grey hair belies the inner greatness of a man whose musicianship is at once apparent from the moment he raises the baton

Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute, written in 1791 just after the French Revolution and just before his death, was his final composition for the stage. Having been introduced to freemasonry by Joseph Haydn, the rituals, tests and initiations all come into play throughout the work.

The VSO's orchestral contrast in dynamism and mood gave credence to the solemnity and humour found in the score.

It is said that Joseph Haydn wrote as many as eight cello concertos but only two are deemed to be authentic.

As a young high school student, I was taken to hear Jacqueline DuPre and remember being far more fascinated by her ability to gesticulate whilst playing the cello





than I was by the amazing sound she produced. It came as a relief that Denise Djokic's understated gesticulations allowed one to concentrate purely on her exquisite playing. At the age of 22, she is already showing an ability for remarkable musical interpretation. The Adagio was possibly a little dull as it lacked the intensity which in turn holds the listeners' attention, but that is only a question of developing maturity as a player. Her technique is solid and she tackled the cadenzas with particular virtuosity, especially in this work, where Haydn 'takes no prisoners' and every note played is exposed.

In Handel's Water Music arranged for modern orchestra by Sir Hamilton Harty, Akiyama demonstrated musical statesmanship which in turn drew a response from the players of which Handel himself would have been proud. In this very well known and very often performed piece, there was no sentimental romanticizing but a full, intense and clearly directed ensemble of sound. The sensitivity in the Andante produced some of the best playing of the evening.

To conclude, Arriaga's Symphony in Dmajor was sheer delight. The composer died just before his twentieth birthday and one wonders what other musical delights would have our privilege had he survived. This piece provided an attractive finish to a very pleasant evening.

2003, Lois Carter