Sol Gabetta gives me hope. The young Argentinian-born cellist is the kind of artist who will keep the classical music industry alive. Her performance of Dvorak’s B minor Cello Concerto with the WA Symphony Orchestra was utterly heart-felt and spiced with a good dose of risk taking.
On Friday night (November 15th) the orchestra established the emotional goal posts of Dvorak’s concerto with an introduction that was both delicate (horn and clarinet solos) and energetic (a perky string statement). Gabetta joined in with exuberance, showcasing a bright cello sound with a knotty low register. Her technique was formidable but the edge-of-the-seat moments weren’t the cascades of notes, rather the engrossing moods of the quieter moments. There was the pensive duet with wispy flute and lingering cello entwined, the yearning intensity of Dvorak’s melodies, and the introverted delicacy of the cello’s final moments before the orchestra charged in with a rousing end. Gabetta's artistry took the audience on a profound journey.
Polish conductor Michal Dworzynski was a conscientious time keeper but his lack of sculptural finesse became apparent in Brahms’ Second Symphony. The first movement had bombast thanks to a warmly romantic brass section but – crucially – no space to breath between the long winding phrases. Dworzynski’s slow tempo for the second movement might have allowed for more shaping but instead the movement wandered aimlessly. The finale suffered from lack of delineation and Brahms’ luxurious layers became suffocating.
The concert opened with Smetana’s Vltava (Ma Vlast) which had a gracious start but the slow tempo meant Smetana’s mighty river became sluggish. Bookended by these two perfunctory performances, Sol Gabetta shone like a dazzling star.
This review copyright The West Australian 2013.