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A break with tradition

Napier University music department broke with tradition this month by replacing its customary early-summer instrumental concert with a more substantial programme of orchestral music, directed by Margaret Murray McLeod, in the Reid Concert Hall.

Handel's Queen of Sheba opened the evening - a lively piece with plenty of light and shade, although perhaps the oboes should have come to some agreement over phrasing beforehand. Kate Maguda was the soloist in Mozart's Violin Concerto in G K216, in a well paced performance scaled down to suit the small orchestra.

No fewer than four more soloists appeared from the orchestra for another concerto, that for four violins by Vivaldi. In spite of a few untidy patches, there was a strong collective impetus to the performance.

After the interval, a special commission, J Simon van der Walt's How Two Minds Can Know One Thing, received its premiere. A three-movement work influenced by jazz, rock and African drumming, its opening movement was resolutely minimalist. In the second movement, a gentle flow of harmonies ambled by without getting anywhere in particular; and, although the final movement started promisingly, with maracas, claves and drums, it had no tune. All three movements suffice as accompaniments: they now need the addition of some musical interest.

The concert ended with a splendid performance of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, with two excellently co-ordinated pianists, Katrin Matschke and Alma Konjhodzic, and distinguished solos from the wind.

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