Gill, Selby and SSO Discovery

Gifted Gill delves into the inner workings of sound

City Recital Hall, November 11
Peter McCallum

THE young Australian Phil Jameson was about the same age (17) when he wrote Introduction and Rondo as Mozart was when he wrote what became the Rondo in D major for piano and orchestra, K. 382. (It was originally as a finale for the Concerto, K. 175.)

Jameson's piece was reminiscent of several styles, moving between them with carefree ease which was neither self-consciously pointed with postmodern irony, nor embarrassed by its own derivativeness.

It began with Mozartian phrasing, cutting back to a string quartet texture after the opening chord, before proceeding to a snappy clarinet melody as the main theme.

There was a sardonic episode on bassoons, which could have been an affectionate dig at Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, followed by a section that seemed to evoke mock overblown emotion of late Romantic sensibility.

The conductor, Richard Gill, in his lively exploration of the piece after, mentioned ambivalence about this passage but it seemed to me quite a clever way of making an unlikely connection from the bluff realism of the bassoon theme back to the cheeky main idea.

Though not always spotlessly balanced in orchestral writing, the piece was highly accomplished and precocious for a teenager.

In taking the piece apart, Gill gave a panoramic and suitably colourful history of the Rondo from the mediaeval period to 2011 (when Jameson's piece was first performed) taking Bach and Mozart in his necessarily broad strides. As he pointed out, Mozart's Rondo in D major for piano and orchestra, K. 382 is not a Rondo in the way textbooks define the term but rather a set of variations.

After deftly illustrating passages while Gill examined the interstices, pianist Kathryn Selby played the complete piece with colour, variety of sound and brilliance, shading the expressive switches to minor-key sonorities in the adagio section and cutting back to hushed music-box delicacy against plucked strings after the cadenza.

Gill's capacity, as conductor and speaker, to take audiences through the inner workings of orchestral sound is, in its own way, as much a gift to the city as the musicians whom he praised at the close.

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