The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) will make its inaugural visit to Sydney in June this year. Considered one of the most interesting and successful ensembles on the international classical music scene, the MCO will give two performances of two different programmes at the Sydney Opera House.
The MCO is a travelling orchestra with 45 core members from 20 different countries including one Australian, Kirsty Hilton. The MCO is on the move for approximately 200 days each year and in 2012/13 will perform in 13 countries with performances in major musical centres as well as exclusive festivals. The MCO has been recognised as an official European Cultural Ambassador for the years 2011 to 2013. When the MCO made its debut at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2008 Le Monde called it “the best orchestra in the world.”
The ensemble’s flexible structure makes it possible for them to perform a very wide range of repertoire, including everything from chamber music to large symphonies and operas, from baroque to world premieres of contemporary works.
The Orchestra’s name refers to its roots in the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Alongside founder, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Harding is the conductor who has played the most significant role in the Orchestra’s history. In the summer of 2011 the musicians voted unanimously to give Harding the permanent title of Conductor Laureate. As the protégé of Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding will be making his Sydney debut with the Orchestra on this tour.
The first performance of the Sydney season features internationally renowned violinist Christian Tetzlaff, who was recently profiled in The New Yorker and who has been described by The Guardian as a performer “…few can equal today.” Tetzlaff performs the virtuosic Beethoven Violin Concerto on a bill including Australian composer Brett Dean and Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, Rhenish. The second performance of the Orchestra in Sydney features American star cellist Alisa Weilerstein whose playing has captivated everyone from Daniel Barenboim to local audiences with some of the “most technically complete and emotionally devastating” playing to be heard on the international stage. Weilerstein performs the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 and the program concludes with the Orchestra’s thrilling interpretation of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World’.
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto
(Sydney, Monday 10 June )
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
SCHUMANN Symphony No.3 Rhenish
Composers like Beethoven and Schumann are the foundation of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s repertoire, the gold standard of an orchestra’s prowess. Christian Tetzlaff and his ventriloquist’s skill for letting a composer speak through his playing will make this performance of Beethoven’s concerto unforgettable. Under the baton of conductors such as Daniel Harding, Schumann’s symphonies are at last being heard for the works of genius they are. The Rhenish is full of high-spirits, high ideals – the work of a Romantic visionary in love with nature and with life.
Shostakovich and Dvořák
(Sydney Tuesday 11 June )
HENZE Sonata for strings
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No.1, Op.107
DVOŘÁK Symphony No.9 ‘From the New World’
Shostakovich’s white-knuckle cello concerto is the ideal vehicle for Alisa Weilerstein, whose intense and dramatic reading of this work has a devastating power. Shostakovich is emblematic of the bitter facts of Soviet Russian life but Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 is the optimistic opposite, born in a new world. This portrait of the golden age of 19th-century America was premiered, aptly, in Carnegie Hall. Both are ideal showcases for the brilliant Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
“The orchestra sounded superb, light and robust, graceful and full.” New York Sun
“The plaintive warmth of the string playing was beyond belief.” New York Times
Tickets in Sydney: from $49 (transaction fees apply)
Bookings: sydneyoperahouse.com / 02 9250 7777