Perth Concert Hall
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Over the decades, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Many of these performances were impressive – but Shuan Hern Lee’s account of the
Earlier, we listened to bass James Clayton in Madamina, il catalogo e questo from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Clayton’s account bordered on the faultless. Blessed with a beautiful voice, he sang as if the aria had been written specially for him. Strings played beautifully here. This was a highlight of the afternoon. Later, Clayton was joined by tenor Paul O’Neill in the much loved In the depths of the Temple from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. As well, O’Neill sang Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot with a finely focussed voice.
The WASO Chorus earned laurels as well. Its contribution gave splendid point and meaning to Borodin’s ever popular Polovtsian Dances. This was a consistently sensitive offering. We need to hear this polished choral ensemble more frequently. The Polonaise from Tchaikowsky’s Eugene Onegin needed a more emphatic beat, though.
Glinka’s rousing overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla made its mark in a most positive way. So, too, did the famous Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. Under Elena Schwarz’s direction, WASO’s playing of its opening moments was informed by an entirely appropriate tenderness. But in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the playing sounded rather uneven. Lee’s brilliance in the Rhapsody, however, more than made up for this disappointment.