April 17, 2024

Rave reviews for Gemma New’s Vancouver Symphony performances with Augustin Hadelich

Vancouver Sun wrote:

“New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New made an impressive debut guiding the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in an exceptionally well-considered program Friday evening at the Orpheum.”

“A good part of New’s success is her programming prowess. Holst’s ‘The Planets’ was the draw for the program, and proved a convincing demonstration of New’s way with a classic for extra large orchestra.”

“It was the program’s first half that set New apart from many other VSO guests. Choosing an all-British program was playing to her repertoire strengths, but starting with a contemporary work, ‘Die Windsbraut’ by London-based Alissa Firsova, was a stroke of genius.”

“Firsova’s piece is absolutely first rate, a neo-expressionist item suggested by the famous painting of Alma Mahler in the arms of her one-time lover, painter Oskar Kokoschka. Firsova knows her way around a big colourful orchestra, and her sly references to the sound world of early 20th century Vienna was spot on.”

“Although Violin Concerto remains something of a sport in the Britten catalogue, it’s a marvellous, rich, darkly demanding proposition. Hadelich doesn’t so much play the thing as live it, his obvious belief that this is great music is completely convincing. How one wishes the composer could have heard of what Hadelich makes of his problem child opus.”

“Hadelich’s collaboration with New was just as impressive. New was there to keep things on track, and to occasionally tame the more freakish moments in the orchestral writing. Otherwise she took it as a given that she was there to support and engage with her soloist. And it was as fine and exciting a concerto performance as Vancouver has heard in ages, one that spoke to an audience no doubt unfamiliar with the work, but enchanted and moved nonetheless. They may have come for the Holst, but they leapt to their feet for the Britten.”

Review Vancouver wrote:

“Mr. Hadelich is an excellent violinist and there is hardly a moment when his playing is not exquisite in tone. In response to the standing ovation, Hadelich generously gave a short encore of Bach’s ‘Sarabanda’ from Partita No. 2.”

“When performed with such vehemence and virtuosity, ‘The Planets’ can be a thrilling journey. Friday night's VSO performance was nothing if not thrilling. Maestra New’s exuberant direction brought out every single one of the multifarious moods and orchestral complexities in this rousing suite.”

“Maestra New strikes a perfect balance with the orchestra, in terms of strings, brass and percussion not overwhelming the overall performance