Last weekend the QPAC Concert Hall awed the audience with a double-billed concerto special, as Queensland Symphony Orchestra presented two poignant concerto pieces by Elgar and Busoni.

The internationally-esteemed conductor Gerard Schwartz leads off with his son Julian in Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor. He and his father have performed eight different concertos together. Julian made his orchestral debut at the age of eleven and has performed alongside his father many times. Despite his father’s standards, Julian feels at ease performing under his father’s direction. ‘As I play with more and more different styles of conducting, I have grown to appreciate what I used to take for granted. It is a true gift to work with my father,’ he said.

Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of those classical pieces that gives listeners goosebumps from start till end. The piece is simply amazing in its bittersweet quality. It contains many beautiful and dreamy musical phrases, all of which Julian handled superbly. As his father Gerard stood by the edge of the stage and watched after the concerto ended, Julian gave an encore of the very familiar Bach’s cello suite No. 1, which, curiously, made me equate it to Für Elise for pianists because it feels so intimate—it is, in fact, a piece so well-known that it must be in every child’s repertoire. Maybe it’s a tribute to his maturity, but I’ll leave that to audiences to decide.

Next in the program is Busoni’s Piano Concerto. Played by Australian pianist Piers Lane, this is one of the longest (at almost 70 minutes) and most technically-demanding classical piece. It’s a colossal piece that involves five movements, the last was accompanied by the male chorus from The Australian Voice.

Busoni was known for his inventive concepts in music; components of putting a chorus in a concerto and extravagant arcs of movements. There can only be so much to say about the second piece of the night due to its enormous proportion, but one can hear the themes being repeated every now and then, but a different melody surrounds the piano’s voice each time. Piers Lane played exuberantly throughout; even the page-turner had trouble keeping up!

QSO has recently announced their 2015 line-up, be sure to read my summaries, so stay tuned!

Words by Donny Lau