The harmonious notes of Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, Camerata, resonated anew as their full string ensemble merged seamlessly with double winds, trumpets, and percussionists in a concert that embraced cherished classics. This meticulously curated musical endeavor unveiled a full-sized chamber orchestra comprising 36 musicians, providing an extraordinary platform for renditions that traditionally belong to larger symphonic orchestras. A significant feat achieved sans conductor, this performance also showcased the prowess and synergy achievable when guided by the deft hand of Artistic Director Brendan Joyce, a maestro leading and conducting from his violin.
The curtain lifted with Rossini’s spirited overture from The Barber of Seville, an operatic gem celebrated for its jubilant resonance and popular status. The Camerata musicians breathed life into its whimsical narrative, painting musical vignettes that portray key scenes and personas from the opera. Their execution brimmed with exuberance and humor, translating the narrative’s vivacity into resonant chords and harmonious melodies.
In a brisk commencement, the ensemble embraced the instantly recognizable tune, intertwining plucked strings with sustained clarinet, bassoon, and horn notes. The woodwinds ushered forth this overture with finesse, meticulously outlining each nuance, and propelling the piece forward with fervent rhythm. The subsequent rapid section witnessed violins and violas conjuring a vivid tapestry of sound, interwoven with the depths of darker strings, woodwinds, trumpets, and percussion. This crescendo crescendoed triumphantly, a culmination of sonic intensity.
Following Rossini’s exuberance, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 graced the stage, lauded as a pinnacle in the concerto repertoire. Catherina Lee, a native Queenslander who returned from Vienna to collaborate with Camerata, adroitly undertook this concerto. Notably, her previous engagement with the orchestra occurred during her emergence as a virtuosic violinist at the tender age of 13.
Mendelssohn’s concerto embarked with the violin’s resounding entry, marked by an exquisitely beautiful and emotive theme in the Allegro molto appassionato. Catherina Lee’s performance exuded emotional intensity, rendering the intricate emotional contours with grace. The movement segued into an energetic and expressive phase, the orchestra’s second melody interplaying with the violin’s theme. The concerto’s heart lies within the Andante, characterized by lyrical, delicate notes that resonate with poignant beauty. The famous cadenza, a challenging pinnacle, demanded robust and virtuosic playing from the soloist.
The musical voyage embraced contemporary notes through Lin’s composition, enshrouded in lyrical rhythm and vibrant hues. This joyful and vivacious creation exuded the essence of traversing scenic landscapes, evoking rustic imagery. Composed to harness the full potential of Camerata’s strings, it culminated in a buoyant crescendo.
Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90 (Italian), a masterpiece suffused with youthful exuberance, brought the evening to a crescendo. Crafted during a sojourn in Italy, the symphony’s Allegro vivace inaugurated with an instantly recognizable motif, a testimony to boundless energy. The orchestra’s luminous strings, punctuated by recurrent woodwind chords and trumpet calls, navigated the movement’s tempos and phrasings with finesse. The plaintive oboe and resonant clarinets and bassoons left a poignant imprint.
The Andante con moto painted a somber tableau, inspired by a funeral procession, transitioning to a march executed by cellos, basses, and then oboes, bassoons, and violas. This movement showcased meticulously layered instrumentation, allowing flutes and violins to radiate amidst well-crafted counterpoints.
The third movement, Con moto moderato, unfolded a dance-like cadence, introducing a fresh theme that intertwined solemn horn calls with a graceful flute obligato. Intricate oboe notes and deep bassoon echoes lent depth to the orchestral landscape. Concluding with the Presto movement, a spirited tarantella named Saltarello, the strings, winds, trumpets, and percussionists collectively conjured an effervescent tapestry. This rousing finale showcased the symphony’s vibrant hues and concluded the night on a stirring note.
Brendan Joyce’s guidance, maintaining orchestral cohesion sans conductor, is a testament to his skill. Camerata’s performance, a mark of their unwavering excellence, met the highest standards.