A triumphant homecoming to Hamer Hall for the MSO, conducted by an old friend.

Mahler Symphony No 3
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, David Berlin vc, Karen Cargill ms, Women of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus and National Boys’ Choir of Australia/Markus Stenz
Hamer Hall, August 9

It was a night to remember – for all the right reasons. Returning to its newly refurbished home after an absence of some two years, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra poured out intensely committed performances in a generous program under the charismatic leadership of its former chief conductor, Markus Stenz.

This first of three special programs celebrating the orchestra’s homecoming began with principal cellist David Berlin in Ross Edwards’s  Water Spirit Song, a short lyrical utterance that hauntingly filled the hall’s darkened spaces.

The full orchestra then gave the Australian premiere of Thomas Adès’ Polaris, a dynamic and colourful score that incorporated some spatially separated brass groups, giving listeners a sense of the acoustic dimensions of the hall. The accompanying video, projected on screens above the orchestra, was no match for the power of the music’s thundering, nautically inspired climaxes.

Mahler’s sprawling but marvellous Third Symphony found orchestra and conductor in splendid form. Thanks to the hall’s vastly improved...