Italian Maestro Giordano Bellincampi finally brought his Auckland Philharmonia to the much-anticipated finale of their cycle of Beethoven symphonies, planned for the Beethoven 250th anniversary year in 2020, but cruelly cut short by the Covid pandemic.
In an interview for Radio New Zealand, the conductor, who has held the position of Chief Conductor with the APO since 2016 commented, “Experiencing Beethoven’s music live is always a very special thing. If it was up to me, we’d play Beethoven every day for the rest of my life.”
The performances of Beethoven’s Eighth and Ninth symphonies in front of capacity audiences at Auckland Town Hall, uniting the orchestra with the talents of a quartet of solo singers (Kirstin Sharpin, Sally-Anne Russell, Manase Latu and Samuel Dundas) and combined choirs (Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, The Graduate Choir, the New Zealand Youth Choir and Secondary Student’s Choir) garnered critical superlatives:
“From the start, one sensed the immense joy of music director Giordano Bellincampi in carrying this project to completion…Throughout the evening, we could hear this deep love and respect, especially in the unsullied freshness and almost scampish humour that so livened the comparatively modest Eighth Symphony. The orchestra was in sparkling form, nimbly alert to Bellincampi’s finessed tempi and textures…” – William Dart, NZ Herald
“The years of waiting and rehearsing evidently galvanised something within the orchestra and conductor Giordano Bellincampi, as the two symphonies were spectacularly played and interpreted with wonderful dynamism and subtlety. The performance of the Eighth was an absolute delight from start to finish. He brought a lovely buoyancy to the opening of the second movement, the orchestra responded with crisp rhythmic interplay. While forward momentum prevailed, there was also full attention given to colour and detail.
The Ninth hasn’t lost its ability to surprise in its ambition and scale…While full of slashing drama, this performance also moved forward with an inexorable momentum toward a strong apotheosis. Finding humour in Beethoven is one of Bellincampi’s strong points, and he certainly brought forward the ironic energy of the Scherzo with its fierce interrupting timpani strokes, the clarity of detail of overlapping lines impressing…Bellincampi gave each section its due attention without ever sacrificing overall cohesion.” – Simon Holden, Bachtrack
Particularly celebrated for his prowess in the Central European, Italian and Scandinavian symphonic traditions, and for his interpretations of significant choral and vocal works, Rome-born Bellincampi has held the positions of Chief Conductor of the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra from 2013 – 2018, General Music Director of the Duisburg Philharmonic from 2012 – 2017, General Music Director of the Danish National Opera, Aarhus from 2005 – 2013, and Music Director of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000 – 2006.
Photo credit: Adrian Malloch