The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra opened its 2022 subscription series with an ambitious program featuring Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 5. The concerto was a powerful showcase for the ASO’s celebration of women composers this year ( featured in all but one of their Symphony Series concerts), and a monumental Mahlerian drama certainly fulfilled the “perpetual emotion” promise of their marketing department.

It was a big concert, especially for early April, when the city is recovering from the arts glut of festival season. Yet despite its length (pushing two-and-half hours), there was a real buzz in the audience throughout. People are still excited and grateful for live music-making in the shadow of COVID, and, additionally, this was a well-balanced program. The concerto proved a substantial enough counterweight to the symphony, so that listeners were left with strong impressions of both pieces.

Two smaller works were presented first. The opening was the traditional musical Acknowledgement of Country, Mark Simeon Ferguson’s sensitive and inventive arrangement of a song from Jamie Goldsmith, Pudnanthi Padninthi II – Wadna. Mozart’s short Overture to The Marriage of Figarothen gave us what I guess would be the closest Western equivalent: a...