Review: Timeless (Queensland Symphony Orchestra)

Alondra de la Parra conducts Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Timeless. Photographed by Peter Wallis.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra farewelled outgoing Music Director Alondra de la Parra and 2019 Artist in Residence Paul Lewis in a spectacular concert that showcased the best of both. In an exciting first for Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the concert was also livestreamed globally via Facebook and to venues across the state, reaching a potential audience of 30 million.

Lachlan Snow shared his insights in a wonderfully engaging and entertaining pre-concert talk, including some audience participation.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra, photographed by Peter Wallis.

The concert began with Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnol. Lachlan Snow defined a ‘rhapsody’ in his pre-concert talk as “an effusively enthusiastic expression of emotions” and the piece was indeed bouncing and lively, each of the four movements promising a Spanish Dance, from the subtle Prélude à la nuit (Prelude to the Night), establishing the four-note motif that carries through the work, to the festive final movement Feria (Festival). Alondra’s conducting was fluid but sharp as she led the large orchestra through the light and shade of this work.

Alondra de la Parra and Paul Lewis. Photographed by Peter Wallis.

The second piece of the evening was Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, his first and only piano concerto, featuring 2019 QSO Artist in Residence pianist Paul Lewis. Lewis was focused and artful, playing with emotion and flourishes, his fingers bouncing and rippling lithely across the keys with incredible speed and skill.

Alondra de la Parra and pianist Paul Lewis
Alondra de la Parra and Paul Lewis with Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Photographed by Peter Wallis.

The third and final piece of the concert was Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony. I love Tchaikovsky’s ballet music, learned from fifteen years of ballet lessons, and hearing this symphony was the same kind of joy – the highs and lows, the light and shade, the depth of the emotional journey this piece of music takes you on regardless of whether you know anything about classical music. To listen to Tchaikovsky has always been to listen to someone telling me a story, and Queensland Symphony Orchestra told the story of this symphony with all the passion, lyricism, and grandeur that it deserved. Alondra de la Parra was almost dancing herself, bursting with passionate energy as she conducted.

Alondra de la Parra with Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Photographed by Peter Wallis.

Alondra and the orchestra received a standing ovation and she raced from musician to musician, embracing people and encouraging more applause for the orchestra, given gladly. Concertmaster Warwick Adeney gave a brief speech reflecting on the performances and pieces QSO and Alondra have done together, and the orchestra played a surprise encore from Márquez, with all musicians who could standing to play their instruments. The packed Concert Hall clapped along, and the encore culminated in a confetti cannon and a moving farewell speech from Alondra.

Alondra de la Parra embraces Double Bass Section Principal Phoebe Russell. Photographed by Peter Wallis.

Timeless was a magnificent concert and a fitting farewell to a Music Director who has made such an impact on Queensland Symphony Orchestra and on the cultural landscape of Brisbane.

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