Soloists steal the show with Mozart’s K.364 at Wellington Chamber Orchestra’s inspiring concert

Wellington Chamber Orchestra presents:

MENDELSSOHN – Overture “Ruy Blas” Op.95
MOZART – Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for violin, viola and orchestra K.364
BRAHMS – Symphony No. 1 in C Minor Op.68

Soloists: Monique Lapins (violin) and Gillian Ansell (viola)
Conductor: Rachel Hyde
Wellington Chamber Orchestra

St.Andrew’s on The Terrace Church

Sunday, 7 April, 2:30 pm

Being part of an orchestra of some 60 players is a wonderfully uplifting experience for an amateur or semi-professional musician. You get carried away with the flow of the music, you are part of a large team with a common purpose. You do your best, you put your heart and soul into the music. You don’t set out to compete with the great symphony orchestras, you do it for your own love of music and you perform for your family, your friends, and those who make a point of supporting your endeavours. St. Andrews, where the audience is close to the orchestra and can feel part of the action is just the right venue for such a concert.


The highlight of this occasion was Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the soloists, Monique Lapins, violin, and Gillian Ansell, viola, the two middle voices of the NZ String Quartet. It was a rare opportunity to hear these well-known musicians step out from their ensemble and show their skills as soloists. This is a major work with great depth, at times with reminders of the dramatic moments of the operas. The two string instruments, the soprano and the alto, engage in a dialogue above the symphonic foundation of the orchestra. The two soloists played with deep understanding, bouncing melodic passages off each other, with a twinkle in their eyes reflecting Mozart’s humour, but also with with passion when that was called for in the slow movement. Elegance is the word that springs to mind to describe their performance. Their playing lifted the playing of the whole orchestra.


Brahms’s First Symphony is a challenge for any orchestra, and to their great credit the Wellington Chamber Orchestra did it justice. They produced a lovely tone that captured Brahms’s rich chords, with fine wind playing and rich string sounds. Rachel Hyde conducted it at a controlled, restrained, spacious tempo that let the powerful melodies soar. It was a great experience for players and listeners alike.


The Mendelssohn overture set the mood for the concert. Unfortunately the acoustics of the church did not favour the orchestra. The sound of the wind and brass reverberated and overwhelmed the strings and the subtlety and the lyricism of the work was somewhat lost. This is the downside of a venue at which the audience feels almost part of the orchestra. With all that however, this was a most enjoyable concert.