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Symphonic works with a choral component can sound lack lustre but this was not the case here. The massed singers demonstrated a powerful unity, springing attack at entries, clear diction and formidable harmonised blends. Lang-Lessing crafted a strong rendering of this long, very formal work and the historical significance and the spirit of this polished, dramatic performance was appreciated, but perhaps there are reasons after all why the Hymn of Praise is not often heard.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing conducting
Sebastian Lang-Lessing conducting

The second concert on 4 August was more of an easy listening program in the form of a pastiche of smaller works that Mendelssohn typically selected for concerts. Speaking to the audience about Mendelssohn's significance as a conductor, Lang-Lessing proudly pointed out that a revival of Bach and Handel's music was entirely due to Mendelssohn's rigorous promotion.

The program selection included Weber's Ruler of the Spirits and arias from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and 'Alleluia' from Exsultate, Jubilate exquisitely delivered by Sara Macliver who is evidently and justifiably a favourite with Tasmanian audiences. Mendelssohn's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage was well shaped with a glassy, marbled tone from the strings and the fugal passage in 'Dank Sei Dir Gott' from Elijah was well clarified.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra performing in Japan in 2005
Sebastian Lang-Lessing and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra performing in Japan in 2005

Ironically, Beethoven's Fourth Symphony made the biggest impact. Lang-Lessing's swooping bird-like arm movements extracted a searing intensity from the orchestra. The dynamic extremes and sharp accents were thrilling and the productions from all sections crisp and alert.

Copyright © 9 August 2007 Gillian Wills, Brisbane, Australia





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