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Concert Reviews - 17 September 2017 -
Babi Yar Commemorative Concert

Tony Way - Limelight Magazine

"Art destroys silence": Shostakovich’s powerful condemnation of anti-Semitism is as relevant as ever.

"Melbourne audiences have been blessed with [a] rare performance of Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony."

"The sheer sonic scale of the enterprise was impressive, but even more impressive is the composer’s deployment of the available forces, which Shiell enabled with admirable economy and clarity."

"Tamburini sang the pivotal bass role with equal measures of utter conviction and piercing insight, tellingly using his resonant instrument to communicate the successive messages of the work’s five movements."

Read the full review in Limelight Magazine.

Margaret Arnold - Classic Melbourne

"Sally Walker’s commanding solo presence was evident throughout, in partnership with conductor Shiell and the orchestra, and was greeted with an enthusiastic audience reception."

"Soloist Adrian Tamburini was a remarkably calm presence, given his pivotal role in the entire concert. His performance was excellent. His voice has a wonderful mellifluous tone, and his musicianship allowed the speech-like rhythms to flow, while more lyrical and expansive longer phrases were given the space to have impact."

"This was much more than an ordinary Sunday afternoon concert by a community orchestra."

Read the full review at Classic Melbourne.

Irena Begelfor - Weekend Notes

"Brendan Zlatkis recited 'Babi Yar' to us. It was a moving and powerful recitation. Yevtushenko would have been pleased."

"There was so much feeling that oozed from the artists on the stage, it was contagious and the audience felt the impact."

"When the concert came to an end, people rose from their seats. They were clapping through tears, affected by the sincere and moving performance by all on stage. There is a good reason why the audience was so touched by this concert."

Read the full review at Weekend Notes.

Clive O'Connell - The Age

"Sally Walker eloquently fronted a flute concerto by Elena Kats-Chernin and Harry Sdraulig's four-panel piquant Crossways enjoyed its world premiere"

You can read the review at The Age.

Sylvester Kroyherr - Published in Bohemian Rhapsody Club online Newsletter

REVIEW OF CONCERT BY THE ZELMAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA –
Babi Yar – 75th Anniversary Commemorative Concert

Given at: Arts Centre Melbourne – Hamer Hall, on 17/9/2017.
Conductor & Artistic Director: Mark Shiell
Chorusmaster: Nicholas Cowall
Flute: Sally Walker
Bass-Baritone: Adrian Tamburini
Guest Concertmaster: Wilma Smith
Babi Yar Chorus (incorporating Melbourne Capella, Southern Voices Youth Chorale & Xavier College Senior Singers)

Programme:
Harry Sdraulig - Crossway for Orchestra - World Premiere
Elena Kats-Chernin - Flute Concerto Night and Now
Commemoration and Reading of the Babi Yar poem
Ravel - Kaddish from Deux Mélodies Hébraïques
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 13 Babi Yar

To begin the evening, the appreciative audience responded well to Harry’s well conceived composition that expressed well the struggles and emotions reflecting from the tragedies at Babi Yar. The 15 minute piece in four movements showed tangible understanding from the composer and the orchestra of elements of fear, frenzy and drama with some sensitive passages from Wilma Smith culminating in a sense of hope. Harry was warmly acknowledged on stage – well done!

The second offering was the beautiful flute concerto in 3 movements by Elena, with a duration of about 20 minutes and utilising a smaller orchestra. With a solemn but mellow and gentle purity, Sally took immediate control to express the intended Russian flavour of fairy tales along with close collaboration of the Orchestra. With playful passages and interplay with the strings, xylophone and bells, the short second movement ably embodied disappointment and joy as intended. Along with a quality cadenza passage, Sally revelled like a bird despite the complex passages flying along the flute with her nimble long fingers. The exciting Tarantella developed with abundance, flair and driving pace to conclude in a thrilling finish backed most ably by the orchestra. Noting Sally’s past association with Elena (refer to Sally’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ album, 2013 – my favourite) the enthusiastic and ecstatic audience coaxed Sally and Elena (piano) to present a charming little encore – again brilliant and very well received!

Following the interval, the stage was set to fire up the audience with the Babi Yar Commemoration Ceremony, headed by Adrian Tamburini (Master of Ceremonies) and a keynote address by Alex Ryvchin. The reading of the Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem ‘Babi Yar’ by Brendan Zlatkis (in English) was simply outstanding and packed with emotion, flavoured with perfect diction and gutsy expression, combined in an air of engaging presence and connection. To complete this segment, Ravel’s ‘Kaddish’ was performed by Alex Pokryshevsky (Bass) and Renata Iskhakbaev (Piano) – a very moving Jewish Prayer for Mourning by Ravel. We also had the pleasure of acknowledging and seeing Yelena Gorodetsky – the only survivor of Babi Yar in Australia.

With a solemn and serious start to the first section of the Symphony ‘Babi Yar’, the Chorus led the way followed by an impressive start by Adrian and well guided by Mark. The changes of keys and tempos were ably handled, depicting the various stories of Yevgeny’s poem (sung in Russian but translated in the programme). Additionally, this 20 minute movement provided some full bodied drama although the 60 piece choir could have been larger to provide a bit more grunt. ‘Humour’ was the next movement that aimed at depicting freedom of expression through humour – despite suppression by rulers. The Orchestra was well rounded with some sweet violin solos from Wilma along with the powerful and expressive voice of Adrian, ending with a big finish. By now, the audience was noticeably connecting with the strong emotional elements driven convincingly by Adrian. ‘In the Store’ was a short sombre movement depicting the resilience of women queuing and the harshness of life, but well handled by the choir and the soloist. Without a pause, ‘Fears’ encapsulated the distressing terror of the Soviet Communist regime with some soft and expressive sections from the horns and cellos along with some beautiful solos from the flute. As the tenseness of fears and droning climaxed, a postlude assured the continuity of the feelings without a break and into the last movement – ‘Career’. With a focus on Galileo’s condemnation by his contemporaries, the highlights were some nice pizzicato from the strings, smooth bassoon passages, including bells and an overall powerful blend with a divine end signifying hope. After about an hour, the ecstatic audience gave the performers a standing ovation and rightfully so! The day was a momentous occasion that should perhaps be repeated every 5 years possibly with a bigger chorus.

Congratulations to the Zelman Orchestra and everyone who took part, including all who supported the event.

SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Singer/Musician/Architect)

22 September 2017.

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