“This is probably the largest orchestra performing in the world at the moment,” West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Conductor Asher Fisch joked between pieces. In a program that was meant to facilitate a side-by-side opportunity for young musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music, Eastern-state lockdowns saw WASO filled out instead with excellent local players. The result was a masterclass of vivid orchestral colours, and maintaining focus and precision among massive orchestral forces.

Asher Fisch WASO

But to start small (if one can refer to Wagner as such), the overture to The Flying Dutchmanset the scene with some turbulent nautical imagery. The rousing brass opening and evocative swells in the percussion opened the piece beautifully, and the ensuing handover of sweet wind solos were seamless. The blazing orchestral tuttis elevated the repetitive melodic material into something more, yet at times the quieter sections felt a bit stagnant by contrast. Nevertheless, the final tutti(all hands on deck!) was a stirring conclusion to the work.

As Fisch checked in...