The Courier Mail, Brisbane, Australia
Ben-Dor inspirational in Australian debut
February 22, 1993
Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra had a dream run through its first performance under the wing of Queensland Performing Arts Trust with opened its 1997 Singapore Airlines International Series at Brisbane Concert Hall.
It could hardly have been otherwise with the dynamic direction of guest conductor Gisèle Ben-Dor, who was making her Australian debut, and the return visit of British cellist Raphael Wallfisch.
Ben-Dor was everything she promised to be - intelligent, totally committed, thoroughly inspiring and immersed in her music.
Gender certainly was not part of her musical equation.
She simply got right inside the music and swept the musicians along in her confident stride.
She used no score for Dances of Galanta (Kodaly) and Symphony No. 7 in A (Beethoven) such is her command of the material.
It left her free to keep direct contact with the players and drive the music every inch of the way.
She gives both rhythmic strength and restrained sensitivity using her left hand to shape the music as the baton in the right makes pointed attack.
The Philharmonic is a diligent orchestra.
Every player responded keenly to her lead. They also seemed inspired by the lyrical mastery of cellist Wallfisch drawing all the musical color of Rondo for Cello and Orchestra (Dvorak) and Variations on a Rococo Theme (Tchaikovsky), two plums of the cello repertoire.
Wallfisch has such control over his instrument that technique completely gives way to his exuberance and communication of every fine detail.
His elegant sound is perfectly even throughout the instrument's wide range and the expressive extremes of his work were matched by supremely sensitive solo spots from new QPO principal clarinet Nicholas Murphy.
Concertmaster Warwick Adeney also was alert to his fine phrasing.
Ben-Dor gave over the Beethoven to its driving rhythmic force.
She set a relentless pace through its four movements in a performance that was as overwhelming in its power and conviction as the symphony is in its structure.
QPO manager Chris Farrell is to be commended for his persistence in bringer her to Australia.
May we have her back please - soon?