The WA Symphony Orchestra delivers a lush concert experience these days, consistently high on the satisfaction stakes. Over the weekend we heard one of Australia’s finest instrumentalists Diana Doherty on the program alongside the effervescent joy of a Haydn symphony and the grandeur of Elgar.

WASO is typically less successful in Baroque/early classical repertoire but on Friday night Nicholas Carter, recently appointed principal conductor at the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, crafted the opening of Haydn’s symphony with elegant serenity. Carter contoured transparent sighing phrases from the violins over a graceful (not plodding as it can often sound) walking bass accompaniment. The second movement suffered from an unsettled tempo but the finale was breathtaking, taken so fast the six beats in each bar became one pulse per bar in an exhilarating and technically dazzling gallop.
Doherty joined the orchestra for Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C. Her creamy sound and ornamental elaboration of the oboe line was exquisite and she emphasised the work’s operatic melodrama with eyebrow-raising comic timing. There was also a sense of classical restraint that unfortunately left much of the detail of her playing inaudible. Perhaps there were too many string players onstage but perhaps too a more penetrating oboe sound would have allowed the audience full of oboe fans to bask a little more in her talent.
A weighty performance of Elgar’s Symphony No 3 Elaborated by Anthony Payne concluded the program. This was WASO’s second encounter with Payne’s 1998 reconstruction of Elgar’s unfinished symphony and the brass were in fine form for Elgar’s gloriously romantic fanfares. The raw vigour of the opening with its fleetingly beautiful second subject melody opened up a vast and majestic horizon while Carter’s almost pulse-less approach to the grief-laden adagio moved into a motionless, interior world. Carter and orchestra delivered a luxurious but cleanly contained performance, unlike anything heard previously on the program and deeply satisfying.
This review copyright The West Australian 2015.