ARCO gets Romantic in a program spanning Mendelssohn to Puccini.



City Recital Hall, Sydney
August 19, 2018

How often do you hear Puccini on gut strings? The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra has carved out a niche for itself bringing a HIP sensibility and period instruments – not to mention fine playing – to the music of both the Classical and Romantic Periods, and it was the Romantic that took the spotlight in Poetical Melodies. Steel strings only began making inroads at the end of the 19th century, and gut really only fell out of favour when World War I disrupted the traditional markets, but it’s only recently that we have been getting opportunities to hear Romantic works played on period instruments, and ARCO is one of the bands leading the charge. It was enlightening, therefore, to hear a program spanning Mendelssohn and Van Bree to Dvořák, Grieg and Puccini performed more or less as the composers might have imagined them in their lifetimes.

The precocious Felix Mendelssohn wrote 12 string symphonies between the age of 12 and 14. If the 10th – with which ARCO opened Poetical Melodies – feels like juvenilia, it is only in comparison with the stunning Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream the composer wrote at a far more advanced 17 years of age. But there is plenty of the mature composer in this work, which the orchestra – led by violinist and director Rachael Beesley – delivered with a lush, well-blended string sound and plenty of fizzing energy to match Mendelssohn’s later fairy music.

The remainder of the concert’s first half was given over to Grieg, continue reading, please follow this link to the Limelight website.