Under the direction of guest conductor Brett Dean, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra again exhibited its musical finesse in Master Series Three. Amongst the eclectic program was the Australian premiere of Dean’s own work, Fire Music.
The evening began with Stravinsky’s Four Studies for Orchestra, a brief collection of movements exploring a variety of musical colours. The composition is cleverly transcribed for orchestra from two existing works (Three Pieces for String Quartet  and Étude pour pianola ), and gives each section an opportunity to shine as melodic motives are passed throughout the orchestra.
Perhaps the most vibrant of the movements is the concluding Madrid which, through a series of block sounds and more brisk, haphazard passages really epitomises Stravinsky’s writing style.
Haydn’s Symphony No 88 in D Major followed a swift stage change, a testament to the competent ASO operations staff. The condensed orchestra captured every nuance of the work and also provided welcome contrast from the previous contemporary repertoire.
The real hero of the evening’s performance was the Australian premiere of Brett Dean’s Fire Music, a musical response to the Black Saturday bushfires. Seamlessly following Sibelius’ Scene with Cranes, Op 44 No 2, it was difficult to discern exactly where Sibelius concluded and Dean commenced as both complimented one another so perfectly.
With musicians situated around the perimeter of the hall, Fire Music was truly immersive, physically representing the all consuming nature of a bushfire. With thick walls and experimental conglomerations of sound, the piece perfectly portrayed the tumult and devastation and became increasingly emotionally confronting. Fittingly, the conclusion of the piece featured a similar mood and musical motives as the beginning; a representation of rebirth and the full cycle of life.
Dean’s Fire Music was a profound experience and above all seemed to question the definition and use of the terms ‘music’ and ‘organised sound’.
Sadly the biggest disappoint of the evening was Adelaide’s inability to completely fill the auditorium to capacity, despite our own world class Adelaide Symphony Orchestra premiering the work of a living Australian composer.