Mozart & Handel: A Celebration from St Martin-in-the-Fields

Programming designed to please did just that at this gratifying evening of music making.
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Those members of the audience expecting to hear a London chamber orchestra may have been disconcerted to learn that what was on offer at this particular performance was a small, Melbourne-based ensemble. The connection between The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul’s (Cathedral, Melbourne) and St Martin-in-the-Fields came in the form of the award-winning Baroque specialist, Peter G. Dyson, who is Director of the Belmont Ensemble, based at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

Despite some possible initial disappointment, patrons would have been gratified by much of the evening’s music making. The 13 strings, two oboes, two horns and harpsichord were well served by the warm, resonant acoustic of the Melbourne Recital Centre, which gave further substance to the orchestral sound.

The orchestra responded well to Dyson’s clear direction, opening the concert with a spirited account of Mozart’s early and very short Symphony No. 10. Following this, Handel’s Concerto Grosso No.11 featured some attractive playing by Mark Drummond. As Leader of the orchestra, he contributed significantly to the success of the evening.

It was clear that many members of the audience were there to hear Lachlan Redd play the musical centrepiece of the concert: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 12. They would not have been disappointed; Redd’s playing provided some of the most satisfying moments of the evening. In the cadenzas and the lovely ‘Andante’ his playing was thoughtfully considered and expressively phrased. An assured and spirited final movement was marked by good forward momentum and nuanced dynamic and rhythmic control.

A lively reading of Handel’s Overture from Theodora opened the second half of the program. Although this might have been a curious choice at this point in the program, the rich timbre of the oboe in the second section and some nicely responsive phrasing from the orchestra justified its inclusion.

Mozart’s popular Symphony No. 29 was an appropriate way to end the evening. Despite the occasional blemish the orchestra rose to the occasion, providing some particularly graceful playing in the second movement and an effective dynamic range throughout. The final ‘Allegro con spirito’ lived up to its name. Programming designed to please did just that.

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5


Mozart & Handel: A Celebration from St Martin-in-the-Fields

Peter G Dyson, guest conductor

Lachlan Redd, piano

The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul’s


MOZART: Symphony No.10 in G major, K. 74

HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in A Op 6 No 11

MOZART: Piano Concerto No.12 in A, K. 414

HANDEL: Overture from Theodora, HWV.68

MOZART: Symphony No.29 in A major, K. 550


Melbourne Recital Centre

7 February

Heather Leviston
About the Author
Heather Leviston is a Melbourne-based reviewer.