We went to the pre-performance lecture by BBC broadcaster Stephen Johnston. I hope the QSO keep offering background lectures, as Stephen helped us to understand how radical and innovative "Holst's Planets" must have been when first performed, and how the reclusive Holst recoiled from the phenomenal success of his creation.
Dario Marianelli's Voyager Violin Concerto opened the evening. Jack Liebeck, as solo violinist, was most impressive given as he was a demanding score. His sensitivity and passion brought the work to vibrant pulsating life. When we closed our eyes, the sound was like a film score, and then we saw in the program notes that Marianelli has written the film scores of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement"
Professor Brian Cox in his engaging and intelligent interludes expanded our horizons, took us on a voyage with Voyager, and shared with us the unforgettable image which Voyager photographed when unimaginably far out in space. Three shards of light stretched across the screen, and in the middle of one of them, a tiny blue dot, which was Earth. Unforgettable.
I have never heard the Queensland Symphony Orchestra play better. They brought "Mars" to pulsating life. Because Brian Cox was speaking between each section the audience felt free to applaud each time, and with the level of performance we were being given this felt entirely appropriate. Why, I wonder, have I not appreciated before the "heavenly choir" in "Neptune"? In this performance they were wonderful. "The Australian Voices" added an ethereal dimension, their voices gently blending with the orchestra, and quietly fading after the orchestra had stopped playing. The audience paid the compliment of a long silence before rapturous applause.