Home to generations of composers from Mozart and Beethoven to Mahler and Schoenberg, Vienna was one of the most important musical centres in the world. A series with a title like the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Visions of Vienna, however, can make critics wary, implying as it might, a dutiful rolling out of well-worn canon fodder. Not so in the hands of Australian conductor Simone Young, who opened her three-year cycle of the Romantic repertoire she does so well with an Australian work new to the SSO and two 19th-century pieces that the orchestra hasn’t performed since before this critic was born.

Simone Young Simone Young. Photo © Monika Rittershaus

James Ledger wrote Two Memorials (for Anton Webern and John Lennon)in 2011 for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra – whose rendition won it Performance of the Year at the 2012 Art Music Awards – and while the work has since been performed in Adelaide, London and Toronto, this is its first time in Sydney. On the surface the two disparate composers memorialised have little but the manner of their deaths in common: the Second Viennese School composer was shot in 1945 by an American soldier following the...

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