In 2012, conductor Alex Briger brought together for the first time Australia’s orchestral diaspora - musicians born, bred or trained in Australia, now largely working overseas – and the Australian World Orchestra was born. AWO based out of Sydney, is now an annual event and this recording is the result of the orchestra working under Zubin Mehta in 2013. These performances take Briger’s original idea to a whole new level, this musical offering achieving a quality which unites musicial and artistic aspirations. Under Mehta, the AWO produces a richly coloured reading of The Rite of Spring, heard here in a revelatory pairing with Mahler’s first symphony in its original five-movement version. Mahler is a composer synonymous with Mehta. Zubin Mehta has conducted Mahler in concert extensively for over five decades the world over including orchestras sharing a direct hertitage with the composer the New York Philharmonic, of which Mehta has been their longest serving Principal conductor, and Vienna Philharmonic being two such orchestras. Mahler’s Symphony No.1 is the symphony Mehta chose to program when celebrating his 50th anniversary debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2012. AWO attracts Australian musicians from far and wide. Notable Australian’s violinist Natalie Chee, concert-master of the SWR Orchestra in Stuttgart, through to violist Toby Lea, principal viola in the Vienna Philharmonic are two of over 50 attracted back along with musical colleagues from the Bavarian Radio, Singapore Symphony, Philadelphia, Osnabruck Symphony, Comiche Opera, Chicago Symphony, and Gewandhaus Orchestras.
To the delirious Sydney Opera House audience at the conclusion of the concert and pointing to the orchestra behind him Mehta said: “Do you realise what you’ve got here?” After a resounding “Yes” from the audience, the 77-year-old maestro added: “Don’t let go of them!”
This whole project is put together in 7 days and if nothing else it is clearly evident that maestro Mehta extracts impressive energy from the assembled forces!
“the sense of occasion in both performances is inescapable, whether you warm to their demonstrably grandiose manner or not. The Rite of Spring throws its credentials down from the get-go...It's a lumbering beast of a performance...The Mahler is writ similarly large but, drawing upon Mehta's Viennese credentials, it has an echt authenticity and turn of phrase that is never less than enticing.” Gramophone