Review: Fond Farewells – Master Series 3, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Classical music’s newest rock star gives a dazzling performance in Adelaide.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra performing Fond Farewells at Adelaide Town Hall. Image: Ashleigh McManus.

Austrian clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer, Principal Clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic, is undoubtedly the newest rock star of classical music. He is young (just 30 last month), handsome, charming, and media savvy with more than 80k followers on social media. He is also a fiendishly good musician whose mastery of his instrument is magical to watch.

Ottensamer delighted the audience at the Adelaide Town Hall this week for two performances of Fond Farewells, a program featuring two marvellous Viennese masterpieces, Mozart’s divine Clarinet Concerto, and Mahler’s enormous Symphony No.9.

Sadly only one of these, the Clarinet Concerto, required Ottensamer’s talents. He stood casually centre-stage and interacted warmly with the conductor and musicians. Mark Wigglesworth, principal guest conductor of the ASO, produced a lovely lyrical reading of the score. There are moments when the music is skipping merrily through the meadows, but that is not to diminish its depth, colour, and variation. This is a mature and considered composition and sadly Mozart’s final purely instrumental piece; he died just two months after its premiere in 1791.

The control and agility of Ottensamer as the music soared and swirled was more than impressive, displaying his superb touch and sensitivity. Sadly the Mozart was over all too quickly but not before the audience and players had shown their warm appreciation of Ottensamer’s immense talent.

After interval, and a major rearrangement of the stage, the audience settled in for eighty minutes of pure Mahler. The sheer size of the orchestra, coupled with the requirements of recording the performance for radio, meant the stage extended well into the auditorium. Two harps, massed percussion, a piano, a big brass section, and more filled the stage, giving the Adelaide Town Hall a new intimacy. 

The serenity of the Mozart was dramatically shattered with the strength and passion of the Mahler. From the exclamation of its big opening to the exquisite pain of its excruciatingly slow ending, this was masterful work by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.  Mark Wigglesworth conducted as a man possessed and clearly enjoyed every note and every last moment of the Ninth. Concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto was excellent as usual, shining throughout and especially in the opening andante comodo movement. 

Fond Farewells was a superb concert and a wonderful opportunity to see a young classical music star in person.

5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★

Fond Farewells – Master Series 3
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Mark Wigglesworth – Conductor 
Andreas Ottensamer – Clarinet
9-10 May 2019
Adelaide Town Hall
Tickets $61-$120

Dr Diana Carroll
About the Author
Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the SMH, the Oz, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.