★★★★☆ Double basses take the spotlight to celebrate five years of AWO.

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
September 28, 2016

There’s always a bit of magic in the air for an Australian World Orchestra concert. Something like a cross between a school reunion and the last day of term, the rapturous welcome for the ex-pat supergroup last night proved that none of the sheen so admired by Zubin Mehta and Simon Rattle has worn off. It has now been five years since Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Alexander Briger brought his baby into the world with a memorable Beethoven Nine, and to celebrate he was back on the podium for a mixed programme of staples and a brand new concerto from  Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin – for eight double basses no less!

Alexander Briger

Ravel’s Bolero might be considered a bit of a warhorse, but from the hushed opening on pizzicato strings, pianissimo side drum and sinuous flute onwards it is the ultimate showcase for each and every section of the orchestra. To be honest, with a Rolls Royce band like this, a conductor just needs to gently put his foot...