With international artists unable to enter Australia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra has had to make some drastic late changes in what must have been a white-knuckle time for programmers. Principal Guest Conductor Sir Donald Runnicles was scheduled to conduct Mahler’s Fourth Symphonyand this week’s Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, but that plan had to be abandoned.

Johannes Fritzsch Johannes Fritzsch. Photo © Peter Wallis

Luckily the SSO has a talented cadet conductor in Principal Cello Umberto Clerici who, according to Limelight’s Angus McPherson, oversaw a “stunning concert” of Mahler and Schubert. And for the orchestra’s continuing belated birthday Beethoven tribute they were able to turn to the safe hands of German-born Johannes Fritzsch, who was recently appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Finding top-notch soloists doesn’t seem to be a problem either, with SSO Principal Flute Joshua Batty the star of this show giving a formidable performance of Carl Nielsen’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, the work itself a late replacement for Leonard Bernstein’s Halil. I had not heard the 1926 piece by the Danish composer before and it...