Classical Music

OMEGA ENSEMBLE @ THE UTZON ROOM, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Concert Program

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op 43

Hindemith  Kleine Kammermusik for Wind Quintet, Op. 24, No. 2

Françaix Quartet for Winds

Beethoven Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, Op. 16

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op.43
Impressions of this long and interesting work varied, like the performance itself, crisp with good harmonic density allowing the musicians to flourish with much individual expression and solo performance. Repeatedly the variation in mood evoked visual pictures of the natural albeit at times dense environment which challenged and contrasted with the reality of observing a pleasure craft sailing past the panoramic window of the room. Utzon would have been pleased!
Kleine Kammermusic for WIND quintet. Paul Hindermith Opus 24 1922

Something different, unexpected, well named and very playful indeed which contrasted with the mid afternoon haze and softness of the harbour view. This was a new experience for the audience and me, hearing it for the first time.

This piece was a forceful statement from the beginning, allowing full testing of virtuosity, personal expression and enjoyment by the musicians which frequently became clearly visible to all to enjoy. So we too enjoyed, absorbed the mood of the performers and interpreted  the work and journey accordingly.

My preference for experiencing this work more than once with its  constant  but very interesting interplay of the dissonant and deliciously warm melody variations would be in a dark room allowing a swirl of images to form and assault our imagination beyond one’s usual expectations.

The power, emotion and momentum produced at times seemed more than what could be expect from a quintet, and with the easily perceptible Stravinsky like harmonic and rhythmic punctuations made it exciting listening, some of which felt reminiscent of Petrushka.

Consequently, the frequent confrontation within the work with so much sudden dissonance  may be disturbing to some and invigorating to others, like life itself, unpredictable, but this work one can enjoy more than once.  

Quartet for Winds, Jean Francaix 1933

No horn! No wild images to blow your mind, just light, enthusiastic, joyful sound with traces of lively exuberance. Genius it seems manifests in infinite ways contriving some very complex multi instrument compositions like Wagner has and at the other end of the scale we, today experienced the opposite in a quartet with verve sparkle and wit with such ease.

Although composed recently. mid last century, the work defies the trend towards atonal and dissonant compositions allowing the simple combination of sound to be easily digested and identifying a clear positive statement with just four wind instruments, one could call elation without the extreme.

Such is genius, often overlooked, but here within the bare bones of the Utzon room Francaix’s work was a sheer delight,  made possible on this occasion only by the talent and sensitivity  of the four really fine artists involved.

Quintet in E-flat major for Piano and Winds. Op. 16, 1796. Ludwig Van Beethoven

Suddenly, like warm air flooding a cold room, from the very first phrase, that familiar Beethoven sound embraced the space filled predominantly with a white haired audience. Immediately, the reaction was palpable. Is this because since his death we made him so popular and as such his works are familiar or is there an enduring special quality about the way he tells the story – unlike any other composer?

In this early work, like in many of his later compositions, Beethoven touches the nerve quickly and directly – no ambiguous wavering and innuendo for him, boldly, with the minimum foreplay he is into one’s head in the simplest, most economic way creating themes and enormous variety emotions, frequently at an amazing rate. And it hangs together amazingly well producing delight which I called the ‘Beethoven sound’, already there, untapped at 27, that everybody now recognises.

This work, probably re-written for our benefit seems in parts as intended to enhance the role of the piano and as such have the wind quartet provide spatial continuity and a background.

Whatever the original intention for the Viennese audience, this performance in Sydney required extreme skill to provide a performance of considerable virtuosity and Omega’s lovely pianist Maria Raspopova did deliver and so did the 4 members of the wind group, splendidly.  

Repeat listening is recommended for deeper understanding of the work and its possible relationship to the later, more mature and intricate piano trio, also in E-flat major created 12 years later on with Beethoven’s return to composing chamber music.

Review by Michael Bures ASTC RAIA

 

Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

This was an absolutely ravishing, exquisite concert and a feast for the senses.

Fourteen years after his Australian debut with the ACO, one of Richard Tognetti’s great musical friends is back with his special 14K solid gold flute. Guest soloist Emmanuel Pahud currently divides his time between his Principal Flute position at the Berlin Philharmonic and touring the world as a soloist.

Through the concert there was a great rapport between  Tognetti, Pahud and the Orchestra.

We first heard CPE Bach’s Sonata for Flute in A minor in three movements. The first movement was slow and languid, the second intricate, bright and bubbling with the flute darting and fluttering. In the third movement the flute was even more birdlike in parts; teasing , scampering and swooping. Pahud’s playing was dazzling and effortless with creamy, expressive, beguiling legato. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

‘DIDO AND AENEAS’ : SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR@ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

Conductor Roland Peelman indicated in his insightful pre-concert talk that this concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was complemented by a programme of shorter vocal works all composed in the seventeenth century.

The result was as special as this interesting talk had us anticipate. Madrigals, laments, litanies and a scena entertained us in the first half of the programme. These works were all innovations by Monteverdi, save for a pair of radical madrigal expressions by Gesualdo.

The Gesualdo works were performed with all their boldness and rich harmonic radicalism completely celebrated. This made them a definite highlight of the concert’s first half. It is always worthwhile introducing audiences to this unique composer, and giving the existing Gesualdo fans a taste of the composer’s progressive harmonic accent live.

Another thrill of this compilation was the Lamento d’Arianna in its five part madrigal form rather than as an extended recitative by a soloist. This version was rich, lush and set the text of love tragically lost across male and female voices for a more universal expression of despair at predicament.

Monteverdi’s Laetaniae della Beata Vergine was a fine interpretation  of this composer’s forward thinking regarding sacred text setting. The singing was as consistent,  driving and reverent as such litanies demand.

To conclude the first half, the Lamenta della Ninfa by Monteverdi was sung and acted with pleasing clarity of tone and character by soprano Wei Jiang with dramatic male chorus providing narrative colour.

Following interval we were treated to a concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. More members of The Muffat Collective accompanied the choir and soloists in this half for an historically informed rendering of this much loved work.

David Greco brought a commanding , well ornamented and rich,  sensitive voice to the role of Aeneas, as the only principal not from the ranks of the Sydney Chamber Choir.

Greco’s stagecraft and commensurate acting skill was secure and his gestures economically powerful. His final scene with Dido was dramatic gold and a well timed, well balanced vocal sparring match.

The part of Belinda was realised by Megan Cronin with agile vocal delivery. The vocal lines were nicely adorned with complex and well executed decoration. Brief but fine  characterisation of the sailor was supplied by Ed Suttle, as well as Natalie Shea’s spirit. There was ensemble evil witchcraft present with increasing excitement from Wei Jiang, Ria Andriani and Josie Gibson.

For her well sculptured role of  Dido, Belinda Montgomery utilised a full palette of vocal hue, dramatic skill and swirls of nuance.  Her interaction with chorus and Belinda’s character was keen and genuine as she  brought us a Queen’s fragilities and hesitations  at attempting any expression of emotion.

Her trajectory towards love completely lost hurtled past us in beautiful and emphatic tone. This made her character a pivotal one in both the opera and in supporting the tragic themes of the entire concert.

Montgomery’s  final ‘When I Am Laid In Earth’ was a rendition which brought the emotion and musical elaboration freshly to us in impressively graded layers.

The Muffat Ensemble was truly at home with all the seventeenth century fare. They, as well as the  vocalists, were conducted clearly by Roland Peelman. The Collective provided a rich and charismatic tapestry over which all characterisations could be woven. Both  soloists and the chorus were sympathetically accompanied.

The chorus work was joyous, engaged, vibrant and rich as Purcell’s innovative sound effects were brought to the Great Hall stage. Perhaps  the offstage echo chorus seemed a slight bit unbalanced this time, but the echo volume drop element was successful. It was only a little tweaking needed to offstage part placement which would have made the echoes completely exact.

This concert had an evocative and well sung version of Purcell’s classic opera as the jewel in its crown. There were many jewels in this programming though and some real gems of performances from choir members and invited guests on stage. It was a well patronised and exciting concert with which to conclude the choir’s 2017 season. We look forward to 2018, with the first concert at the City Recital Hall on March 25.

Continue reading ‘DIDO AND AENEAS’ : SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR@ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

PRELUDE IN TEA : SONUS PIANO QUARTET @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

As part of the very popular Prelude In Tea series at the Independent Theatre. this was an intense passionate concert strikingly played by the Sonus Piano Quartet. This quartet takes its name from sonus, the Latin word derived from the Greek “tonos” that means “noise, sound”.

Formed in late 2011 by Brenda Jones, the Sonus Piano Quartet celebrates the art of sound production in their performances.  The Quintet features four master musicians : Australian Chamber Orchestra violinist, Aiko Goto, violinist Jacqui Cronin, Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist, Timothy Nankervis and pianist, Brenda Jones.

The concert began with  Saint-Saëns Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op. 41 with its elegant swoops on the violin. Jones’ playing on the piano was assertive, and Nankervis’ cello paying was intense.

The second movement heard Jones on piano off to a spiky, emphatic start followed later by some flourishes.  There were some tango like dance rhythms,  and a vibrant discussion between the quartet led to a fiery, turbulent conclusion.

The third movement, a scherzo in rondo form, had an edgy start, and featured fast, scurrying playing on the viola and violin. The music pulsated – the piano had a fast, anxious mini solo, whilst the other instruments  commented. The music delicately evaporated to a pianissimo at the end. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : SONUS PIANO QUARTET @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

PHILIP GLASS @ 80 : ANDREW CHUBB ON SOLO PIANO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

Andrew Chubb gave this Recital to celebrate Glass and his oeuvre last Sunday afternoon, 17th September, at the Independent theatre, Miller Street, North Sydney.

It was a masterful performance by him. Chubb is an Australian pianist composer and educator, the latter being via the Newcastle Conservatorium where he has been for the last 18 years. He is also a noted promoter of other contemporary composers and has premiered performances of their music.

Glass is a contemporary modernist composer, and his best works  are characterised by repetitive hypnotic rhythmic patterns which are often an underlay to striking melodic lines. The results tend to capture the insecurities and brittleness of today’s consciousness. Not surprisingly Glass’s  work has featured in a number of films, especially The Hours, the score for which earned him an Academy award nomination. Continue reading PHILIP GLASS @ 80 : ANDREW CHUBB ON SOLO PIANO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

ARCO : REVOLUTIONARY ROMANCE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) under the leadership of Australian musician and educator Richard Gill OAM performed its third and final concert for 2017 at the City Recital in Sydney on Sunday 17th September.

An exquisite Revolutionary Romance concert was performed by the ARCO Chamber Soloists. Fine chamber musicians passionately performed the sublime chamber works by Mozart and Spohr. They delivered the rich sounds, colours, ornamentation and textures on classical period strings played with heartfelt passion.

A real highlight was the basset clarinet played by the Australian star of this instrument Nicole Van Bruggen. I will remember her performance on this wonderful instrument and Mozart’sClarinet Quintet in A Major, K581’ for a long time. It is no wonder these superb musicians are so committed to delivering historically informed performances ‘HIP’ in such intimate settings.

The program began with Louis Sphor’s ‘String Sextet in C major Op. 140’ in Allegro Moderato. Spohr was German born with a reputation during the first half of the 19th century as a violin virtuoso, conductor, author, teacher and a prolific composer.  Spohr commented when he wrote this piece that his spirits were raised by the current events in Germany. He wrote upon the manuscript, “At the time of the glorious people’s revolution…& reawakening of Germany.” Continue reading ARCO : REVOLUTIONARY ROMANCE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR : NATURE @ THE CONCOURSE

This was a stirring, thrilling concert of enormous range and vibrancy.

Under the dynamic, precise baton of guest conductor Matthew Wood the latest Willoughby Symphony  concert had the umbrella title NATURE.

First was Smetana’s symphonic tone-poem The Moldau, evoking the flow of the Moldau River from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside, to the city of Prague. The piece is one of six works that form his cycle My Country .

The Moldua  is divided into eight sections and includes a village wedding, hunting horns and nymphs dancing in the moonlight. It began with bubbling flute and was mostly tumbling and flowing, the orchestra surging with shimmering violins and pulsating woodwind and a torrential tempestuous, crashing finale

Next came the presentation and announcement of the 2017 Young Composers award, presented by Willoughby Mayor Cr. Gail Giles-Gidney to Ella Macens for her work Flight. The APRA encouragement award went to Andrew Howes.

Ella Macens

With Macens in the audience the Orchestra performed a richly textured and multilayered rendition of her work. The piece began strongly  with pulsating percussion and striking woodwind. Most of the work was a conversation between the violins and the rest of the orchestra.

We then heard Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca by 2017 Composer-in-Residence, Daniel Rojas with the Willoughby Symphony Choir and mezzo-soprano, Jenny Duck-Chong.

Jenny Duck-Chong

This marks the final collaboration of Rojas with the Orchestra as composer in residence for this year.

The three powerful short pieces ranged from celebratory bells to silent mourning. Based on stories by Lorca the piece was conceived as a trilogy that celebrates the tragedy and triumph of love, innocence and unbridled passions.

The piece was full of dark, fiery Flamenco passion with staccato palmas and stamping rhythms, castanets and tambourine. Duck-Chong was compelling and charismatic, the Choir in fine form with a HUGE sound.

After interval we heard one of Australia’s most distinguished horn virtuosos, Hector McDonald, in a special guest appearance, performing Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11.

Strauss’ piece had a crashing strident opening with lush lyrical strings in the first movement and superb playing by McDonald, dominating the orchestral discussion.

The second movement was softer and more thoughtful with tentative woodwind and the final, third movement had darting flute and dark tumbling dramatic strings while the horn was rather bright and skittish. McDonald’s  playing was refined and glorious.

We were then privileged to hear as an encore a most unusual combination horn and harp in Dolci Pianti (Sweet tears) by J. Strauss Jnr. The horn with its showy flourishes rather dominated the flowing, rippling harp, as played by Meriel Owen.

The Orchestra performed one more piece in the encore. This was Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78. full of varying moods, warm strings and delicious woodwind. At times it was strident bombastic and loud, with scurrying strings, or conversely softly creeping with cat like tread, at other times jaunty and dynamic, or rich, ominous and exotic. Under Wood’s baton the Orchestra was extremely well balanced and played with gusto in a thrilling performance.

Running time – roughly 2 hours 15 minutes including interval.

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir in NATURE played the Concourse Chatswood on the 16th and 17th September 2017.

Program :-
Smetana’s The Moldau
Ella Macens Flight
Daniel Rojas Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca
Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11
Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78.

For more about the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra visit http://www.willoughby.nsw.gov.au/whats-on/willoughby-symphony/

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : HAYDN MOZART AND FRIENDS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

In this latest terrific concert by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO), the program for the evening consisted of four works, concentrating on the Classical period.

The concert began with a rarely heard Sinfonia by Mozart’s friend Christian Cannabich, who led  the renowned Mannheim court orchestra  which was to the 18th century what the Berlin Philharmonic is to today. Then there were two works by Mozart, and a Haydn cello concerto, superbly played by ABO principal Jamie Hey.

The Orchestra had as many composers as players in their ensemble and it set the standard for others to follow, increasing the orchestral range and nuance by their introduction of innovative bowing techniques and the use of rhythm and ascending climaxes which became known as the “Mannheim Rocket”.

The entire ABO was in fine, golden form as energetically led by the very enthusiastic Paul Dyer who was close to dancing whilst conducting on fortepiano.

The concert began with the rarely heard Sinfonia in E-Flat major by Cannabich that gave the concert a brisk, emphatic, sprightly start.

Then came Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1 with ABO soloist Jamie Hey on period cello playing with great articulateness and polish. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : HAYDN MOZART AND FRIENDS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

FANS, FANTASIES AND FANDANGOS : THOROUGHBASS IN CONCERT @ ST LUKE’S ANGLICAN CHURCH

In their upcoming concert THOROUGHBASS, comprising Shaun Ng on viola da gamba), Shaun Warden on violin and  Diana Weston on harpsichord, will perform music from or influenced by the Spanish baroque. Vigorous rhythms, outlandish dissonance and heart-felt melodies are the soul of Spain.

The past lives in the present in this concert with present-day music based on that of centuries ago.

In his suite Fantasia para un Gentilhombre Rodrigo really lets his imagination fly. Basing this set of 4 movements on the baroque and folk music of Spain, we hear marches, dances, songs and the raw street sounds of foot-stamping, hand-clapping and guitar-strums.

Stephen Yates’ modern-day take on an anonymous Spanish 18th century fandango resulted in his own melodramatic fantasy Fandangle.

Wind back the clock a couple of centuries and we find Domenico Scarlatti doing a similar thing. His sonatas for harpsichord reveal strangely modern dissonances, insistent patterns and heart-breaking melodies set to guitar-like accompaniments. Eerily similar in style is  Bach’s Fantasia in C minor.

PERFORMANCE DETAILS : 

FANS, FANTASIES AND FANDANGOS : Thoroughbass in Concert @ St Luke’s Anglican Church, Ourimbah Road, Mosman on Sunday 24th September @ 3pm.

For more about Fans, Fantasias and Fandangos, visit http://www.thoroughbass.com.au
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ThE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘A BRAHMS AFFAIR’ @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

Prior to the performance there was a pre-concert talk by Mark Grandison. His exposition of the works by Borodin and Brahms was by itself worth attending…highly illuminating without lapsing into a dirge of technicalities.  

The Omega Ensemble is another nascent rising star on the Australian Music Scene. It was founded in 2005 and Simone Young is its current patron. Much loved composer George Palmer is also a supporter.

The program commenced with Schumann’s Fantasiestucke for Clarinet and Piano. Maria Rospopova at the piano  (she is  co Artistic Director of the Ensemble with David Rowden)  sensitively accentuated the light and shadow of this piece frantically composed by Schumann in just two days. Continue reading ThE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘A BRAHMS AFFAIR’ @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : GRIEG AND BEYOND @ CITY RECITAL HALL 

This was a stirring, passionate concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra  in fine, elegant form.

Under the baton of guest director and violin soloist Henning Kraggerud, the concert celebrated the music of Norway’s best known composer. It was multi layered and displayed a great range. There was fine ensemble playing and some very exiting mini solos.

Special guest of the Orchestra, Henning Kraggerud, Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra , is renowned for his interpretation of Grieg and his extraordinary creative versatility, with a career that his seen him playing many different roles from being an Artistic Director to composer, performer, arranger and even and improviser. He spends much of his time touring the world as a concert soloist and has written over 200 compositions.

As the Orchestra leader, he danced, crouched and lunged into the music, such was his passion. The Orchestra and Kraggerud developed an attentive rapport playing together with great panache and passion.
Kraggerud briefly spoke about each of the works before they were played and contextualised the works for the audience. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : GRIEG AND BEYOND @ CITY RECITAL HALL 

THE STREETON TRIO : DVORAK, SUK AND SMETANA @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

Czech Masterpieces presented with warmth and eloquence by the masterly Streeton Trio

A most enjoyable Sunday afternoon’s ‘A Prelude in Tea’ concert was performed by the Streeton Trio. They delighted Sydney audiences with a program of Dvorak, Suk and Smetana. This concert was part of the Independent theatre’s ‘A Prelude in Tea’ chamber series which offers a delicious afternoon tea at 2.30pm followed by the concert one hour later.

The youthful and internationally acclaimed Streeton Trio consisting of Emma Jardine (violin), Meta Weiss (cello) and Benjamin Kopp (piano) delighted the audience with their rendition of Czech Masterpieces.

Celebrating the release of the Streeton Trio’s new CD, this program explored masterworks by some of the most beloved Czech composers.

The program consisted of the following:

Dvořák: Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor Op.90 “Dumky”

Smetana: Piano Trio in G minor Op. 15

Suk: Elegy for Piano Trio Op.23

Violinist Emma Jardine opened the program with an introduction to Dvořák’sPiano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op 90 ‘Dumky’ “as there were no printed program notes. Emma explained that Dvořák was well established during the time this piece was written. The work was first performed in 1891 and is amongst Dvorak’s most popular compositions. It was so well received that Dvořák performed it on his forty-concert farewell tour throughout Moravia and Bohemia before he left for the US to start a music school in NYC.   Continue reading THE STREETON TRIO : DVORAK, SUK AND SMETANA @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘A BRAHMS AFFAIR’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

This concert looks like it will be a glorious celebration of chemistry, romance and love that will engage your senses and leave you breathless.

Brahms and Schumann were close friends and they were also both endeared and enamoured with their equal muse, Clara Schumann, a virtuoso pianist and composer in her own right.

Clara, the muse, is evident in all of Schumann’s music and his Fantasiestücke represents the unbridled passion found in the free imagination of the Romantic composer.

Borodin, besides being a composer, was also a chemist and a doctor. His String Quartet No. 1 demonstrates his love and passion for chamber music and displays his affinity for understanding form.

This string quartet is the perfect cohesion of musical ideas from a scientific mind.

The Omega Ensemble invites you to join them at their concert celebrating the most exquisite and sublime chamber music of the Romantic era, including the superlative Clarinet Quintet by Brahms.

DATE FOR THE DIARY
Thursday September 7 @ 7.30pm @ City Recital Hall.

Omega Ensemble
Featured Artist: Alexandra Osborne – violin (Appears courtesy of National Symphony Orchestra, Washington)
Co-Artistic Directors David Rowden and Maria Raspopova

For more about A Brahms Affair, visit http://www.omegaensemble.com.au/events/a-brahms-affair
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Willoughby Symphony : Last Night of the Proms @ The Concourse

Cello soloist Benett Tsai.

Following in the grand tradition of Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, this was a quite British concert with several old favourites included and also featuring some Scandinavian music. Audience members attended the concert fully prepared to enjoy themselves and that they certainly did.

The concert, held at the Concourse, Chatswood where the WSO is the resident orchestra, featured huge cast of performers with the combined forces and talents of the Willoughby Symphony and the Willoughby Choir. The featured soloist this year was astonishing Benett Tsai on cello. Dr Nicholas Milton conducted with enormous panache and flair, and introduced the various works and soloists.

It opened with the stirring yet stately Pomp and Circumstance Military March No.4 by Elgar, a Proms staple and an audience favourite. This was followed by the dramatic nationalistic tone poem Finlandia Op.26 by Sibelius with ominous horns and drums, scurrying strings and rumbling cellos and double bass. The Choir was strong and powerful in the penultimate Finland Awakes and was underscored by tremulous strings. Continue reading Willoughby Symphony : Last Night of the Proms @ The Concourse

MUSICIAN PROJECT ORCHESTRA RETURNS TO THE CON WITH SOME CLASSIC BRUCKNER

The Musician Project Orchestra returns to Verbrugghen Hall in September, to present a performance of Bruckner’s magnificent Third Symphony.

Widely considered the first work in which Bruckner’s unmistakable musical language fully blossoms. The work also demonstrates his special relationship to Wagner. Bruckner visited Wagner in September 1873, offering to dedicate either his Second or Third Symphony to him.

It turned out to be a very convivial meeting and the beer flowed freely. So much so that on his return home, Bruckner realised to his horror that he could not remember which of the symphonies the master had chosen. An exchange of letters clarified the situation: Wagner had chosen the Third, something which was no great surprise, as Bruckner had incorporated diverse Wagner quotes in the work. The concert opens with Wagner’s delicate & peaceful birthday gift to his wife: the Siegfried Idyll.

Returning to the podium will be our Artistic Director, the peerless Max McBride.

DATE FOR THE DIARY
September 30 2017 AT 7pm at the Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium Of Music,

For more about Musician Project Presents: Bruckner 3, visit http://musicianproject.net.au/september-2017/
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WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : FANTASY @ THE CONCOURSE

Featured photo – Violinist Ji Won Kim.

The latest wonderful concert by the fabulous Willoughby Symphony Orchestra was entitled FANTASY, regarding stories of sorcery, storytelling and true love.

Conducted enthusiastically and energetically by Dr NIcholas Milton the Orchestra was in glorious form and dealt with the quite different styles of playing required for the various pieces excellently . It was a multilayered, beautifully nuanced elegantly precise performance that at times was explosively powerful.

First up was Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila Overture (1842) It was played at a fast and furious pace. An emphatic melody for winds, brass and timpani is connected by the surging violins in a tearing hurry. A dialogue develops between the creeping woodwinds and swirling strings, then the cellos sing lyrically with the melody being taken up by the violins and all ends in a tempestuous, breathless finale.

The bulk of the first half was Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat major for violin Viola and Orchestra K 364, as performed by two of Australia’s most exquisite instrumentalists, Ji Won Kim on violin and Caleb Wright on viola. Ji Won Kim wore a beautiful long pale ice green gown, Caleb Wright was in orchestral black.

Both soloists were given equal billing and dazzled in their solos and showy duets. The opening was brisk and emphatic and mostly the work was a dialogue between violin and viola with mini solos. Their playing was many textured and multilayered, full of exquisite delicacy and thoughtful phrasing .At times it was fiery and passionate, at others lustrous , fluid and shimmering. The middle adante movement began as an aching lament and the Orchestra pulsated underneath with a heartfelt shimmering duet for the two soloists. The third Presto section was in a far brighter and bouncier tone leading to the delicious conclusion.

There was thunderous prolonged applause and for an encore Kim and Wright performed Handel’s Passacaglia in G Minor for Violin and Viola in a jaw dropping version that was strikingly different in style to the previous Mozart piece. It began quite formally then dramatically changed – some parts were explosively powerful, others were lyrical and emotional (eg the rather reflective central variation).

The second half, an exotic Turkish delight, consisted of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral fantasy Scheherazade,( 1888 ) based on the tale of the storyteller princess who tricks a murderous Sultan into letting her live by telling him 1001 enchanting tales. Balletomanes might remember this was choreographed by Mikhail Fokine for the famous ballet by the Ballets Russes starring the legendary Nijinsky and Karsavina.

Both Kim and Wright joined the Orchestra, Kim leading the violins and shimmering as the ‘voice’ of the narrator Scheherazade, or Zobeide (if you are thinking of the ballet version).It was given a lush, dramatic and stirring performance full of fiery passion and sweeping melodies. Ji Won Kim dazzled in the delicate violin solos .The symphonic narrative is divided into four sections and Rimsky-Korsakov’s dazzling creation of being at sea and other luscious sounds is hypnotic .

The composer had originally given the four sections story titles but later changed this. The first section introduces Scheherazade and the Shah , with her tremulous , shimmering voice on violin and his stern, turbulent one and you can hear the ships and the sea .The second and third sections are circular in format with the beginning theme of each movement heard again at the conclusion, in the third movement woodwind have a dialogue with the strings , both ‘voices’ are featured , lush strings occur in the third movement and a crashing, tumultuous section and more brass fanfares lead to a restatement of the main melody and a hushed, lyrical conclusion.

There was great enthusiastic applause for this captivating concert .

Running time 2 hours including interval
Willoughby Symphony in Fantasy runs at The Concourse Chatswood 5-6 August 2017

 

OMEGA ENSEMBLE: ‘SCHUBERT’S TROUT’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Above: Omega Ensemble’s quintet performed Schubert’s ‘Trout’ quintet. Alexandra Osborne (violin), Neil Thompson (viola), Maria Raspopova (piano) Alex Henery (double )bass and Paul Stender (cello).  Featured image: For the Schubert Octet D 803, the string players above were joined by Veronique Serret (violin), Michael Dixon (horn), Ben Hoadley (bassoon) and David Rowden (clarinet). Photo credit – Bruce Terry.

The audience for this Omega Ensemble concert was treated to some very sophisticated Schubert. The performances of two substantial Schubert works  displayed all the elegance we love from this master of melody. Schubert’s command of  classic forms and a subtle but sure glance forward in history with sudden outbursts of Romantic drama albeit were rendered at all times with finesse within the works’ architecture.

This concert demonstrated Omega Ensemble’s ability across its annual concert series to cover a wide range of styles and  repertoire. In the concert, the group illustrated its flexibility of instrumentation and ability to attract some Australia’s finest string and wind players into its ranks when needed. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE: ‘SCHUBERT’S TROUT’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

DMITRY SINKOVSKY THE SINGING VIOLIN @ CITY RECITAL HALL

This was a fascinating concert that was perhaps a trifle uneven in the first half but the second half was astonishing and the audience gave a thunderous standing ovation which led to THREE encores.

The Brandenburg Orchestra’s special guest artist Dmitry Sinkovsky was a star student of the iconic Moscow Conservatory (where Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich once taught and Rachmaninoff studied). He was groomed for an international career on modern violin but changed focus in 2005 and pursued specialised early music training in Moscow, Montreal and Holland.

Now he is a highly regarded laureate in many European violin competitions (including first, audience and critic’s prizes in the coveted Music Antiqua Competition in Bruges). He is in great demand internationally both as violinist and as a counter tenor.

Sinkovsky is an very charismatic figure. Dressed in black he had his hair long and channelled his inner Paganini (or some other Romantic performer/composer perhaps) playing intently, cradling his violin intimately and swaying with the music. When singing he was proud, passionate and fiery. He played a rare and precious Francesco Ruggeri violin made in Cremona in 1675.

The concert began with Aubert’s bright, flowing Ciaconna from his Concerto for four violins in D Major Op. 26, No. 3 featuring energetic swirling strings. Dyer, as always, conducted enthusiastically from the keyboard. The Orchestra throughout breathed and played as one with glorious ensemble playing.

Then came Telemann’s fiendishly difficult Concerto for Violin in B-flat Major TWV 51:B1 “per il Sig Pisendel” featuring the extraordinary Sinkovsky The first movement was pulsating with powerful undercurrents , the second had a most emphatic beginning and circular rhythms which Sinkovsky took and embroidered. The third movement, by contrast , was far more lyrical and softer, with Sinkovsky tender yet dazzling in his playing. The fourth movement saw Sinkovsky in a blisteringly fast mini solo, the melody stated and passed around the Orchestra, Sinkovsky embellishing again in commanding Il Divo mode on his violin.

Vivaldi’s Concerto for two Horns in F Major, RV 538 was next, rich and vibrant at a galloping pace featuring Darryl Poulsen and Doree Dixon on Baroque horn. This was a rich and vibrant performance. In the first movement the horns stated the melody and led the Orchestra and the third movement was a fast showy duet for horns and orchestra, both movements animated allegros and with featured use of ritornellos. The middle, second movement however was a lyrical, eloquent passage for the cello and double basses.

Leclair’s Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op.7 No.2, full of elegant playing, featured a soft, hushed opening, Sinkovsky eventually leading shimmering violins. In the first movement Sinkovsky had a darting very fast mini solo whilst the second movement was fluid with pulsating undercurrents, Sinkovsky was dazzling in his warm, rich bravura solo comprising full of leaps and difficult arpeggios. The final movement saw Sinkovsky very intense, yet lyrical with his glittering playing leading to an exuberant conclusion.

After interval the Locatelli Concerto Grosso in E-flat Major, Op. 6, No. 7 “Il Pianto D’Arianna”, in some ways an instrumental opera, based on the Greek legend of Cretan princess Araidne, was off to a slow, poignant beginning which then turned suddenly blisteringly fast.

The Orchestra was brisk and emphatic, rather stately and eloquent in a thoughtful discussion with Sinkovsky, who charmed us with his warm, lustrously textured playing, In the second movement, the orchestra played p its lament and there was a sudden change to brisk scurrying while the third movement featured Sinkovsky’s shimmering playing.

Then came Locatelli’s Introduttioni Teattrali in D Major Op 4/5 with its cascading, rolling strings and bright, swirling circular rhythms. Paul Dyer enthusiastically led on harpsichord.

The last work, officially, on the program was Vivaldi’s complex Concerto for Violin in E Minor, RV 277 “Il Favorito” with emphatic, dynamic strings and Sinkovsky’s extraordinary dazzling, soaring playing full of delicacy and simplicity. The second movement began slowly and softly, developing a floating, dreamlike atmosphere and Sinkovsky’s playing was poignant and extremely eloquent. The third final movement saw a forceful start by the Orchestra and Sinkovsky had a very fast showy solo, swooping and soaring on his violin, as part of a dynamic dialogue with the Orchestra.

After thunderous , prolonged applause the first encore was Locatelli’s Capriccio from his Concerto in D Major (Op. 3, No. 1) with Sinkovsky blistering on his skittering violin.

in a delightful , surprising move, the second encore was Handel’s Dove sei from Rodelinda (HWV 19) with Sinkovsky leaving the violin behind, and performing as counter tenor. This piece was fluid and passionately dramatic.

The final encore was Handel ‘s Va tacito e nascosto from his Giulio Cesare in Egitto (HWV 17) – the Hunting Aria – where Sinkovsky was explosively powerful and there was a teasing, dynamic ‘anything you can do I can do better’ duet with Darryl Poulsen on horn. The concert ended with tumultuous applause and a standing ovation.

Running time just under 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.

DMITRY SINKOVSKY: THE SINGING VIOLIN is playing the City Recital Hall until Friday 4th August. The concert then moves to   Melbourne and Brisbane

PROGRAM
Aubert Ciaconna from Concerto for four violins in D Major Op. 26, No. 3
Telemann Concerto for Violin in B-flat Major TWV 51:B1 “per il Sig Pisendel”
Vivaldi Concerto for two Horns in F Major, RV 538
Leclair Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op.7 No.2
Interval
Locatelli Concerto Grosso in E-flat Major, Op. 6, No. 7 “Il Pianto D’Arianna”
Locatelli Introduttioni Teattrali in D Major Op 4/5
Vivaldi Concerto for Violin in E Minor, RV 277 “Il Favorito”
Plus encores.

 

 

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : INTIMATE MOZART @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Intimate Mozart indeed. This was a ravishing concert full of superb playing.

The concert was  a small scale recital, the ACO being represented by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti and three featured principals: second violinist Helena Rathbone, cellist Timo-Veikko Valve, and guest viola player Florian Peelman.

Kristian Bezuidenhout was the amazing soloist on piano. Born in South Africa, raised in Australia, educated in the US and now a resident of the UK, pianist, Bezuidenhout is regarded as one of the world’s leading performers of Mozart. (Since 2009, he has been recording the complete keyboard music of Mozart). Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : INTIMATE MOZART @ CITY RECITAL HALL

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE WITH MELVYN TAN@ CITY RECITAL HALL

Above: Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Artistic Director Skye McIntosh with some ensemble members. Featured image: visiting fortepianist  Melvyn Tan.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble’s (AHE) 2017 season continued with the group’s signature elegance, intellect and visceral precision on exciting display. ‘Melvyn Tan and Haydn’s Paris’ was a  brilliantly devised programme of 18th century works with wonderfully interlocking connections. It also featured a fine collaboration with internationally renowned fortepianist Melvyn Tan.

As well as the concert including AHE favourites Mozart and Papa Haydn, it introduced us to the music of Parisian star performer, composer, dancer and fencing champion Chevalier de Saint Georges. We heard music from this dazzlingly individual and contemporary of Mozart in both the formal programme as well as in encore.

Chevalier de Saint Georges’ Symphony Op 11 No 2 in D major (1779) was presented in an Australian concert premiere. The bold delivery was carefully controlled by Artistic Director and violinist Skye McIntosh. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE WITH MELVYN TAN@ CITY RECITAL HALL

THE PRELUDE IN TEA SERIES : THE SERAPHIM TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

An adventure of sound, emotion and glorious celebration of the history of Piano Trios superbly performed by the talented Seraphim Trio.

The Seraphim Trio consisting of Anna Goldsworthy (piano), Helen Ayres (violin) and Tim Nankervis (cello) delighted a very keen Sydney audience last Sunday afternoon to a wonderful program celebrating the artistry and musical achievement of Piano trios through time.

This concert was part of the Independent theatre’s ‘Prelude in Tea’ chamber series which offers a delicious afternoon tea at 2.30 (be sure in future to get there early to secure a much prized seat) followed by the concert one hour later.

The concert was opened by a brief introduction by Ayres (violin) who explained the difficulty in selecting only 3 Piano trios amongst the vast array of alternate and significant piano trio histories.

From the Viennese salon of Mozart to the stirring folk imaginings by Dvorak and then to the majesty of Ravel the dynamic properties between the piano, violin and cello in a balanced dialog were presented at their best by these superb musicians. Continue reading THE PRELUDE IN TEA SERIES : THE SERAPHIM TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

YOUNG INSTRUMENTALISTS SET TO DAZZLE WITH AUGUST CONCERT @ THE CON

The NSW Doctors Orchestra Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Scholarship attracts the finest players from across the nation. The final is always an inspiring occasion that no devotee of classical music should miss.

Sponsored by the NSW Doctors Orchestra- Musicus Medicus and The Brian Shearman Memorial Trust Fund, the Scholarship endeavours to discover and encourage an outstanding instrumentalist in the fields of strings (bowed and plucked), woodwind or brass instruments. Continue reading YOUNG INSTRUMENTALISTS SET TO DAZZLE WITH AUGUST CONCERT @ THE CON

YOUNG PIANISTS COMPETE FOR MAJOR SCHOLARSHIP

With four outstanding pianists competing for a total prize purse of $13,500, the final round of The John Allison & Sydney Eisteddfod Piano Scholarship showcases the finest talent from across the nation. The concert is sure to impress all loves of piano music!

Two Finalists will also be invited to comprete in the ‘2017 Fine Music 102.5 Young Virtuoso State Final’ on Sunday August 27 at the Fine Music Performance Studio.

When: Saturday 8 July 2017, 2.30pm

Where: Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Cost: Adult $30; Concession $25 (+bf)

Bookings:

https://sydneyeisteddfod.com.au/the-john-allison-and-sydney-eisteddfod-piano-scholarship-16-25-years/#tickets

Find the Eisteddfod on: YouTube | Facebook

LIVE AT LUNCH : NOCTURNES AND SONGS TO THE MOON @ THE CONCOURSE

Featured photo – Jane Rutter.

This was a delightful concert the theme of which was nocturnes and songs to the Moon – appropriate for a performance on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

Jane Rutter’s special guests artists this time were soprano Catherine Bouchier, pianist John Martin and singer/guitarist Bertie Boekemann.

For the concert Rutter wore a striking, elegant blue gown with a draped over the shoulder long silver shawl.

The concert opened with Dvorak’s Song to the Moon  from his opera Russalka in a passionate performance. Schumann’s Mondnacht was melancholic and Strauss’ Die Nacht was somewhat brighter in mood with a rippling piano and flute. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : NOCTURNES AND SONGS TO THE MOON @ THE CONCOURSE

THOROUGHBASS OVERTURE AND CONCERTO @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY

Featured photo – Guest artist Michael Tsalka on harpsichord.

This was a very charming and delightful concert performed with delicacy and vigour. There was fine ensemble work by all and some dazzling harpsichord playing. Under the direction of Diana Weston we were privileged to welcome the return of Michael Tsalka on harpsichord.The program featured six short works. First we heard the elegant, quite operatic Johann Freidrich Fasch’s Overture arranged by Stephen Yates. This piece was stately yet lyrical and at times very fast paced.

Next was Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto RV 319 arranged for two harpsichords in three movements again arranged by Stephen Yates. The first movement began with a fast and insistent feel, one harpsichord acting like the violin soloist, the other the orchestra in a delightful dialogue between the two.

The second movement was more heartfelt and sorrowful, melancholic and reflective– however this changed to cascading, shimmering, faster, rippling notes on the keyboard taking us through to the third movement. This was an animated discussion between the two harpsichords full of crystalline delicacy and circling rhythms that led to a bright, powerful conclusion. Continue reading THOROUGHBASS OVERTURE AND CONCERTO @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY