Jenny Argante reviews the Bay of Plenty Symphonia’s Sunday 5th July ‘Brahms & Bassoon’ concert at The Graham Young Youth Theatre, Tauranga Boys College with soloist Ingrid Hagan and Conductor Justus Rozemond
Rediscovering classical music in my third age has been a real buzz and I do think we are particularly lucky in Tauranga to have such dedicated performers under such capable leadership as President Maggie Gething, conductor Justus Rozemond and concertmaster Anne Jaquiery. It’s easy to forget that music as a performance art must also be organised, managed and promoted and that much back room work and prior rehearsal goes on to bring a concert of this quality to the audience.
The musicians began with a Maurice Ravel composition unknown to me, and composed originally as waltzes for solo piano as his homage to Schubert. Though there seemed occasionally to be a little uncertainty in the playing, overall it was a fine introduction. Conductor Justus Rozemond had arranged it specially for this concert, and there was an emotional richness in the music of these ‘Valses Nobles et Sentimentale’ that came through strongly.
Then soloist Ingrid Hagan came on stage to perform with the orchestra to play ‘Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra’ by Nino Rota, a composer who was unknown to me but whose film music many of us will recognise when we hear it, especially the haunting melancholy of his Oscar-winning themes for The Godfather II. An American import, Hagan has performed worldwide and is now principal bassoonist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a position she has held since 2010.
This was an invigorating interlude of music made to seem easy as and playful, when it is also obvious that Hagan is a highly skilled professional. She seemed at one with her instrument – almost as tall – and almost seemed to dance the music out of her bassoon. From the response the audience seemed to agree with me that we had been treated to something special.
In fact, most of the performers when singled out for attention (and I do like to concentrate on the individual musicians as well as the entire ensemble) seemed alert and in accord with each other, the conductor and their own instruments. I was fascinated by the harpist, Margaret Harper, the double basses of Paul Bowers-Mason and Craig McFarlane, and the flute playing of Jeff Lin.
‘Adagio for Strings’ by Samuel Barber was once well-known to me, and it was so good to be reminded of it, a challenging piece ably performed by the Bay of Plenty Symphonia that left me mellow and deeply appreciative.
They excelled themselves in the finale, ‘Serenade No. 2 in A Major, Opus 16’ by Brahms, and the enthusiastic applause at the conclusion was well-earned. To be farewelled with a Brahms’ rondo is to go home grateful for what it represents: the icing on a particularly enjoyable and sustaining cake.
Review by Jenny Argante. Jenny Argante has featured on the Tauranga literary scene for 15 years. She is President of Tauranga Writers, New Zealand’s longest-running self-help group for writers and Editor in Chief of Freelance – Writers Helping Writers; this country’s only magazine for creative writers of all kinds. Jenny is a freelance writer and editor and has taught creative writing for over 30 years.