The Australian Chamber Orchestra beguiles its Princeton audience

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

The Australian Chamber Orchestra appeared on the Richardson Auditorium stage in Alexander Hall on the Princeton University campus on April 11.


Last seen on this stage in 2015, The Australian Chamber Orchestra brought with it three works and a guest pianist. Paul Lewis played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414 (1782). A new work by Samuel Adams (born 1985), Movements (for us and them) (2018), and the Brahms’ String Sextet in G Major, Op. 36 (arranged for String Orchestra) (1866) completed the evening. 


The Richardson is a lovely, intimate venue, with outstanding acoustics. The Australian Chamber Orchestra sounded fabulous throughout the program.  Movements (for us and them) began the program auspiciously, with the group voicing the work’s difficult vocabulary flawlessly. It is a work very much in the modern idiom, which orchestras love to challenge themselves playing. The audiences are also challenged in listening to this academic music. Warm applause from the audience ushered in the Mozart concerto, played by Princeton favorite visitor Paul Lewis. Lewis played the concerto with limpid grace and masterful technique. Mr. Lewis made it all seem effortless.


After the interval, the Brahms began supremely. The string attacks were phenomenal. The playing had all the earmarks of a landmark performance until … the principal cellist’s strings gave way, resulting in concert master Richard Tognetti stopping the performance while Timo-Veikko Valve left the stage to re-string his cello. In the meanwhile, Mr. Tognetti amused the audience with several jokes about Prince Charles. These seemed to charm those who could hear them. Mr. Valve, the distinguished Finnish cellist, returned, and the orchestra began the Brahms anew. As beautiful as they played the piece, there were no steep, thrilling string attacks, which were sorely missed. But one still will have the memory of that glorious moment, that peak experience which shattered those cello strings. The thrill was akin to hearing Lazar Berman live for the first time, or Horowitz, or seeing Baryshnikov sail through the air. 


The Australian Chamber Orchestra rightfully was accorded warm audience acclaim, prompting several returns to the stage. They then left.


The Australian Chamber Orchestra performed at many distinguished (and beautiful) venues during its North American tour. See for the photos of the concert halls. The Richardson is among them.


To see what the coming season has in store at Princeton University Concerts, visit .

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