City Recital Hall, Sydney
May 9, 2018

While French harpist Xavier de Maistre was the headline artist in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s latest tour, aptly titled The Harpist, this was a wide ranging – if oddly constructed – program full of surprises and hidden treasures.

The two symphonies on the program – Mozart’s Symphony No 20, K133 (written in 1772 when the composer was 17 and between tours to Italy) and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s First Symphony (written after the mature composer took over from his godfather Telemann as music director in Hamburg in 1968 after almost three decades working for Frederick the Great) – were almost two sides of the same coin, and the Brandenburgs, led by Paul Dyer, delivered both with muscular verve.

Xavier de Maistre Harpist Xavier de Maistre. Photo © Steven Godbee

The three declarative chords that opened the Allegro of the Mozart were reflected in CPE Bach’s deconstruction of the same symphonic effect in his First Symphony – the elder composer sounding, as the chords refracted across the sections of the orchestra, far more modern (on the surface, at any rate) to contemporary ears. Melissa Farrow’s lithe-toned flute solos in the second movements of both...