Peter and the Wolf and Honegger Cello Concerto are in final NCO concert for 2017

Peter and the Wolf and Honegger Cello Concerto are in final NCO concert for 2017

Peter and the Wolf. National Capital Orchestra conducted by Leonard Weiss. Saturday, December 9, 3pm. Albert Hall.

Leonard Weiss says the final National Capital Orchestra concert for 2017 will feature a piece he played with another ensemble at the start of the year.

Leonard Weiss.

Leonard Weiss. Credit:William Hall

"Peter and the Wolf is probably Prokofiev's most well-known piece - amazingly, he wrote the entire thing in two days," Weiss says. The composer came up with the music, story and text after being commissioned to write a musical symphony for children by the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow in order to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra.

Actor Charles Hudson, who performed the piece with Weiss and members of the Canberra Youth Orchestra earlier in 2017 at the High Court of Australia, will once again tell the story of young Peter who goes out one day with various creatures including a cat, a duck and a bird, and encounters a wolf.

Christian Renggli.

Christian Renggli.

"He's simply captivating ...He has a way of engaging with children and of bringing out the characters by changing his voice," Weiss says.

He believes Peter and the Wolf has successfully endured as a popular composition and teaching tool because each of the characters in the story has a distinctive musical motif and each of the instruments or groupings has its own tone colour. In addition, many of the melodies of the characters are memorable in their own right.

Opening the program will be Rossini's Barber of Seville Overture - "one of the most iconic concert openings of all time" - and Weiss hopes to spice things up a bit after playing it by inviting a young member of the audience up to conduct an encore of the finale with a musical question.

There will also be a concerto excerpt:the elegant slow movement from Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp with soloists John Smiles, flute and Elizabeth Alford, harp.

Christian Renggli's final concert with the National Capital Orchestra will see him perform as soloist in the 1931 Cello Concerto in C major in Arthur Honegger.

"It's the first time I've played it - I only discovered it a few months ago," Renggi says.

"I was looking for something to play at the concert - it shouldn't be too long and it should be something related to me because I'm Swiss."

He looked at cello works by Swiss composers and came across this concerto by Honegger.

"It's not well known at all - I'd never heard it, I'd never seen it included in any concert program even back home in Switzerland."

He found a recording of it and the solo and orchestral parts and has been studying it and his appreciation for it has deepened.

"I think it's a great discovery."

The first movement, he says, is jazzy and melodic, the second is darker and slower and the third is a fast march with a lot of contrapuntal interplay between the soloist and the orchestra and a prominent role for the tuba.

"It has its challenges but I think it's very entertaining, colourful and playful."

Renggli is completing his doctorate in earth sciences at the Australian National University. He says he will return to Europe four days after the concert.

"I've been here more than three and a half years doing my PhD and I've been playing with the NCO - we've had a lot of good concerts. I'll be sad to leave, but that's how it is."

He said among the highlights was a performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

"That was a lot of fun."

Ron Cerabona is an arts reporter for The Canberra Times.

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