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Alexander Gavrylyuk with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra – (NSW)

Reviewed by Chanele Mao

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Season 1 November – 4 November 2023


- Debussy's 'Gigues' transports the listener to early morning English countryside, enhanced by the Concert Hall's bright, resonant acoustics -

It was a chilly and cloudy Wednesday night but inside the grand Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House, people were milling about to see the Passions of the Soul concert featuring the wonderful Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Ukrainian-Australian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk.

It was an exciting night as we were delighted with the music from Henri Dutilleux’s Metaboles, which translates loosely as metamorphosis, an ambitious work that explores the themes of change and transition in life. There was an ominous, raspy and haunting sound to 'Metaboles' which kept you at the edge of your seat.

Under the baton of Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles, Claude Debussy’s Images for Orchestra, was a treat to listen to as Debussy took inspiration from the places he visited – Gigues England, Iberia Spain, and Rondes de Printemps France to create his music. Gigues was inspired by England and the opening of the work transports the listener to the lush countryside of England. Imagine it’s early morning and you have just woken up from your slumber, but you still feel like you’re in a dream. Rising unsteadily, you get yourself together and open the windows to breathe in the fresh air.

Photos by Marco Borggreve and supplied by Sydney Symphony Orchestra

The first half of the show covered the French composers, Dutilleux and Debussy. Whilst the Orchestra played brilliantly together through some highly technical and difficult passages, the first half of the show was dark and heavy. It was the second half of the show that brought the whole House to its feet. Gavrylyuk played Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with such aplomb, verve and power that it was the crowd favourite, the absolute highlight of the show. Gavrylyuk walked onto the stage with a bubbly energy and warmth that foreshadowed his childlike and playful style of playing.

It was a joy to watch Gavrylyuk (and hear him) play the piano. He embodies a sense of drama, expressiveness and gravitas in his playing that makes the audience feel alive. The coordination between him and the orchestra was smooth and seamless. Although Tchaikovsky’s 'Piano Concerto No.1' is a very famous piece with waves of majesty, Gavrylyuk and the orchestra brought much life to the music.

The Concert Hall is a beautiful setting for a night of bold and powerful music. The acoustics were very clear and resonant, helped by the magenta sound reflecting panels that dangle from the roof of the hall over the orchestra.

The Sydney Opera House is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It is the perfect time to visit and watch something you may be curious about, always wanted to see or something new. It was definitely worth the time (and money) to watch Gavrylyuk perform Tchaikovsky with the stellar Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The show runs approximately 2 hours with a 20 minute interval.



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