Is it possible to listen to Paul Dukas’ symphonic scherzo The Sorcerer’s Apprentice without seeing Mickey Mouse doing battle with water-carrying brooms? Or even to hear echoes of John Williams’ Star Wars soundtrack?
Sergei Dogadin. Photo © Dimitrii Yakimov
It depends on your demographic, I suppose. But it doesn’t matter: Dukas’ symphonic scherzo, as much a masterclass in storytelling through thematic transformation and narrative orchestration, has over the years lost none of its power to delight and enchant. This occasion was no different, with conductor Nicholas Carter laughing off a ringtone intervention before he and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra took us on a spellbinding authoritative journey through Dukas’ artistry and our own memories.
Following this magical opening, Russian violinist Sergei Dogadin joined conductor and orchestra for Alexander Glazunov’s 1904 Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op 42. A glorious work in the late romantic vein for soloist and orchestra, combining a dazzling panoply of technical devices with attractive melodies and luminous orchestration, this is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It was then to Dogadin’s credit that his performance, even in the substantial cadenza, eschewed any sense of flashy virtuosity, opting instead to contrast a light sprezzatura with a serious, almost philosophical, expressivity.
The flashy virtuosity – though with tongue firmly in cheek – Dogadin saved for his generous encore, Paganini’s introduction and variations on Nel cor piu non mi sento. An utter delight.
Following interval, Carter and WASO returned for final work for the evening, Rachmaninov’s massive Symphony No 2 in E Minor, Op 27. Again, no surprises here, with Carter eliciting from the orchestra a radiant, magisterial sound and a fluent inevitability in the gear changes that saw strings, winds and percussion contribute to a sonic portrait that less of the old warhorse about it, more of the handsome mare.