Jeffrey Grice : Events : Performances : Reviews : December 24 1988

The CSO at peak

The CSO at peak

THAT 1988 has been the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra's unequivocal highwater mark of the 80s is clear to its subscribers. More elusive is to explain why this is suddenly so. After all, the orchestra has much the same faces, conductors and administrators as in its two previous years. It still inherits problems of no permanent leader, no permanent musical director, no core of full time salaried players and parsimonious local body funding.

Yet, against all this, there is clear evidence that its standards have shot up noticeably this year. Its Walton Belshartar's Feast under Cavdarski in May was its finest achievement in my 23-year memory of the CSO. Two months earlier Erich Bergel was already cracking the pace with a superbly shaped Brahms Requiem. In Canterbury Opera Trust's successful Rigoletto, Cavdarski and the CSO suddenly put opera accompaniment here on a new peak.

The confident vivacity of the CSO's Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto in its recent concert suggest that conductor Donald Johanos may have faced a similar first-rehearsal surprise from the players. It certainly gave expatriate Christchurch pianist ]effrey Grice (now resident in Paris) a head start to integrate the dash and sparkle of his deeply involved playing with tightly knit teamwork. Grice made light of the work's well-documented technical difficulties.

- by lan Dando in New Zealand Listener
December 24 1988

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