Queensland-based conductor Johannes Fritzsch proved an ideal replacement for Mark Wigglesworth, stranded overseas as so many have been during this ongoing lockdown. In this seemingly disparate program which ranged from perhaps the grandest and most demanding piano concertos, through the childlike wonder of a suite from Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, to the relatively recent example of British composition by Emily Howard, Fritzsch more than adequately cover all bases and styles eloquently. And the large orchestra gathered for this occasion similarly rose to meet the demands.

Receiving its Australian premiere, Emily Howard’s highly effective Magnetiteshowed just how effective these forces are when it comes to contemporary composition. This concentrated ten minute work owed as much to electronica and the percussion of Richard Strauss as it did to Ligeti and Bernard Herrmann. Opening with familiar arpeggiated chords, the piece burst into evocative life before suggesting the American pastorale of Coplad or William Schuman. Plucked celli and basses brought a suitably metallic quality which, upon the work’s climax, faded into silence.

From here it was back to ‘Wagner for kids’...