The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra’s opening performance of their 2024 season in the Melbourne Recital Centre on Thursday night was the concert that kept on giving.

With a far-reaching program curated by MCO Artistic Director Sophie Rowell, Music Speaks ticked many boxes: a world premiere, two Australian composers, a dose of classical virtuosity, and some soul-soothing romanticism for good measure.

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra: Music Speaks. Photo © Lucien Fischer

Glacial Thunder – a world premiere by Melbourne composer Katy Abbott – opened the evening’s program. Tightly packed melodies and interlocking rhythms ricocheted around the ensemble, morphing into catchy thematic fragments.

Abbott’s compositions revolve around the idea of ‘connection’ – particularly that between performer, audience, and composer. Glacial Thunder sought to ‘pick up on the nuances of resonance in regards to communication’.

Striking, gestural, and crunchy at times, the work was never uninviting, demonstrating Abbott’s skill in being able to challenge both performer and listener without straying into esotericism. It was an electric – and thoughtful – choice to kick off MCO’s first concert of the season.

Next, welcoming violist Christopher Moore to join Rowell as double soloist the MCO performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in...