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Ode to Joy

For much of its recent history, Vienna has been something of a musical incubator, a fact celebrated in the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s current concert series Splendour of Vienna. The focus of the series is, understandably, the Classical and Romantic mainstays of Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler, though it is a pity that a substantial work from the Second Viennese School (of pioneering atonal and serial composers) or a contemporary composer (such as the brilliant Beat Furrer) does not feature. That said, Musical Director Eckehard Stier’s surprising placement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 alongside significantly lesser-known pieces by Wolf and Schoenberg in the first concert of the series (Auckland Town Hall, July 15) made for an strong, intelligent programme that still drew a full house.