Wagner Tannhauser: Prelude and Venusberg Music
Sculthorpe Earth Cry
Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6
Sydney Opera House, August 26

The concept of bringing prominent Australian orchestral musicians from the four corners of the earth to play in a short concert series at home has long been a dream of conductor Alexander Briger. One can only admire and wonder at the organisation required to enable such an event to take place.

The Australian World Orchestra’s inaugural concert opened with Wagner’s Tannhaüseroverture. After a wobbly start (the early woodwind entries were tentative) the performance achieved considerable power and brilliance. Simone Young excels in this repertoire and drew some beautiful playing from the orchestra. One of her strengths as a conductor is in the gracious phrasing she coaxes from the strings.

Sculthorpe’s Earth Cryis a remarkable work. No other composer has been able to capture musically the vast expanses of our country as he has, reflecting the dry hard sky and hot desert plains of Australia. The genius required to meld the ancient didjeridu with Western music has rarely been so effectively achieved.  The virtuosity of soloist William Barton in fusing so successfully with the orchestra was dazzling. It is a...