The WA Symphony Orchestra’s concert of Broadway and Viennese classics attracted a full house on Saturday night. The gilded elegance of Strauss operetta and the jazz glitz of Gershwin’s songs provided opportunity to witness the growing relationship between principal conductor Asher Fisch and orchestra.
The opening notes of Johann Strauss II’s overture to Zigeunerbaron had a golden roundness and the focus on beauty of sound continued throughout the night. The strings in particular navigated the 19th century Viennese overtures, arias and marches with a robust glow. The less well-known overture to Heuberger’s Der Opernball was an inspired inclusion with its wispy tune passed between the violins and a seductive melody in the cellos. Under Fisch’s supple conducting it was the most persuasive music-making of the night.
Bavarian mezzo soprano Stefanie Iranyi
was a seamless addition for three operetta arias. The frivolity of Kalman’s In the mountains (Die Czardasfurstin) was expressed with foot-stomping gypsy abandon; Lehar’s When I hear the sound of the cimbalom (Zigeunerliebe) revealed the fabulous richness of her lower register, while in Lehar’s My lips kiss so hotly (Guiditta) Iranyi’s phrases sighed and stretched seductively.
Iranyi’s smooth classical sound was transformed by breathy vibrato, sliding between notes and a throaty vehemence for Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, Someone to Watch Over Me and The Man I Love. In both the operetta and Broadway numbers Iranyi’s personalised touches were closely supported by Fisch revealing the shared musical vision between singer and conductor who are partners on and off the stage.
Fisch led Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue from piano in a display of musical camaraderie with his orchestra. Fisch’s fast tempo and plentiful use of the sustain pedal smudged some piano detail and the orchestra was less cohesive without the conductor on the podium. But Fisch’s energy was infectious and the orchestra came striding noisily along for the ride with vibrant brass chords and a gloriously long opening glissando from clarinettist Alan Meyer.