Thursday, August 26, 2010

UK critic savages the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

The UK Independent newspaper's  music critic Edward Seckerson has ripped into the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's appearance at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday night with the opening  2 paragraphs :

"The prospect of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra getting down under and dirty with Strauss and Scriabin got off to a frenetic start with Vladimir Ashkenazy’s body language perhaps telling us more than we needed to know about the heated carnality at the start of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier prelude. And what you saw was what you heard: all sex, not much love-making. 

But this was the dreadful “stitch-up” of a suite often attributed to Artur Rodzinsky, though who was the perpetrator and who should want to perform it says more about their indifference to the opera than it does about the suite. Ashkenazy was somewhat twitchy and short-winded with it – too many accents, not enough legato – drawing attention to its bad edits and the shrieking lack of opulence in the Sydney Symphony string sound."

The whole sorry story can be read here. 

Rosaleen Norton-'Witch of Kings Cross'
Eugene Ghoosens

The SSO was established in 1945 and has had numerous noted conductors like Edo de Waart and Sir Charles MacKerras who passed away in June this year. Controversy has often courted the acclaimed orchestra. 
The first international conductor was Sir Eugene Ghoosens who took over in 1947 but was caught up in a tawdry scandal with the Kings Cross witch and artist Rosaleen Norton. The pair had a love affair and were into bondage sex.

A newspaper reporter stole saucy letters the pair had exchanged. Those letters came to the attention of the then notorious Sydney Vice Squad who had custom's officers stop Ghoosens when he returned to Sydney after a visit to London in 1956. They found a number of porno books, tame by today's standards, a rubber mask and (gulp) incense sticks in his luggage.

The resulting publicity, conducted with that extraordinary co-operation law enforcement and tabloids are so good at, destroyed Ghoosen's career after he was fined £100. He died a broken man in the UK in 1962 .

In happier days:The Whitlams & the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with 'No Aphrodisiac'