Classical Music

SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR DELVES INTO SOME GERMAN ROMANTICISM

The Sydney Chamber Choir, conducted by Sam Allchurch with pianist Jem Harding, invites  music lovers to attend its first performance for the year at the Great Hall, Sydney University in early April.

It will be a great opportunity to dive deep into the luscious music of the German Romantics, with this celebration of the rich beauty of choral voices: the delicacy of Schubert, the eloquence of Mendelssohn and the resonant harmonies of Brahms and Bruckner, culminating in Schoenberg’s passionate and powerful plea for Peace on Earth.

This was the age when music got personal, as composers shook off the old conventions of balance and restraint to seek out fresh ways to communicate feeling.

The Romantics, inspired by the magnificence of Nature, the unexplored paths of dreams and a deep awe of the divine, opened up choral music to unlimited horizons of both grandeur and intimacy.

SAVE THE DATE : –
Saturday April 8 at 7.30 pm at the Great Hall, Sydney University.

For more about German Romantics, visit http://www.sydneychamberchoir.org
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LAWRENCE LEE AND SIANG CHING NGU IN RECITAL @ THE CONCOURSE

In early April, good friends and very talented musicians, violinist Lawrence Lee and pianist Siang Ching Ngu, will present a charity concert entitled TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC during which they will play works by Brahms, Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Falla, Sarasate and Piazzolla at the Concourse.

All proceeds from the recital will go to a very good cause, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia; a not-for-profit organisation providing Clinical Musical Therapy and Community Music Programs.

Nordoff-Robbins runs numerous programs aimed at transforming people’s lives through music including musical therapy for special needs schools and aged care facilities, running music clubs for people with a disability, as well various training and education programs to spread the influence of music through the broader community.

CONCERT DETAILS : 

The concert TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC will take place on Wednesday 5th of April, 7:30 pm at the Concourse Chatswood.

For more about Transforming Lives Through Music: Charity Violin & Piano Duo, visit http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=TRANSFOR17
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OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘ROMANTIC VISIONS’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Featured image – Maria Raspopova.

This is a joyous and colourful program, put together by Co-Artistic Directors David Rowden and Maria Raspopova, featuring an elegant work from Rachmaninoff and a serenade of Beethoven’s septet.

Beethoven’s Septet in E flat major was first performed as background music at an aristocratic tea-party in 1800. Filled with Mozart like charm and elegance, the piece has gone on to become one of the most popular septets ever written.

The piece is full of both colourful musical dialogue and melodic and harmonic richness. It cleverly explores the vast array of colours and sonorities created through the intriguing and unique scoring of clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and double bass. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘ROMANTIC VISIONS’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : GENIUS @ THE CONCOURSE

The Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and conductor Dr Nicholas Milton were off to a terrific start for 2017 with their concert entitled GENIUS, part of the year long program entitled ENDURING PASSION.

The concert featured works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms with special guest artist, gifted violinist Lily Higson-Spence.

Overall the orchestra was in fine, glowing form with a delicious rich tone. Dr Milton conducted very energetically yet extremely precisely .

The concert rocketed off to a tense, dynamic start with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3. In the form of a dramatic full scale single symphonic movement, the piece was eloquently played and featured an augmented horn section. The work featured surging, crashing, tempestuous strings with a flute soaring above and  an inquisitive questioning woodwind, all leading up to an impressive, thrilling finale.

Guest artist Lily Higson-Spence, in a long flowing halter neck beige gown with a large bow at the back, dazzled playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor Op.64.

The standard symphonic structure is used by Mendelssohn but slightly changed by the composer. It is regarded as one of the most lyrical and flowing works of its type and is one of the most frequently performed of all violin pieces. The work had its premiere in Leipzig on March 13, 1845.

For this work, Higson-Spence, Dr Milton and the Orchestra combined as one for a magnificent performance. It was mostly Higson-Spence ,however, leading the discussion between the three in collaborative harmony .

Higson-Spence’s bravura solos were mesmerising. Her violin had a pure tone, precisely controlled yet volcanic underneath. Sometimes the violin, singing its heart out, was lyrical and reflective, melancholic and passionate, at other times the violin darted about at a blistering pace.

There was a seamless flow between movements : the first was somewhat turbulent, with a wonderful bassoon transition to the ardent second movement and the third movement was animated , leading to an invigorating finale. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : GENIUS @ THE CONCOURSE

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-“MASTERWORKS” @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

 

Featured image: Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams and The Metropolitan Orchestra. 

This concert of two very well known ‘Masterworks’ brought TMO back to the stage in fine form for its first ‘Met Series’ concert of 2017. A warm and appreciative audience eagerly awaited the chance to hear Sibelius’ Concerto in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra followed by no less than Brahms’ mighty Symphony No 1 in C minor Op 68.

Joining TMO as soloist for the second year in a row was Anna Da Silva Chen. Her powerhouse performance was fresh and commanding in nature. Da Silva Chen is constantly developing as an athletic and thoughtful virtuoso.

The first movement reached out to us with a clean and crisp approach. TMO, as led by Sarah-Grace Williams, made the most of all opportunities to enhance rhythmic complexities, melodic development and successive levels of dramatic mood.

There was thankfully no over-interpretation nor self-indulgent over-playing from this soloist. Bravura passages added throughout the first movement by Sibelius to showcase the violin as much as possible were rendered with prodigious depth of strength but avoided awkward heaviness.

A delicate song-like restraint and no-nonsense rendition of the concerto’s famous opening was a real highlight. This approach was not fussy and immediately drew us towards the soloist and to the qualities of the featured instrument Sibelius was able to promote.

Da Silva Chen’s respect for a stable melodic architecture alongside dazzling and fluid virtuosity continued into the second movement. Here, a beautiful pursuance of line and intricate collaboration with the orchestra made for some fine moments.

The energy and character needed from soloist and orchestra to bring this concerto to a close was on offer during the final movement. A lithe, elevated display from Da Silva Chen and a gutsy, well punctuated dealing with Sibelius’ challenges from TMO earned both a standing ovation.

Following interval, TMO’s version of Symphony No 1 in C minor Opus 68 was interpreted with clear and direct Brahms like Romanticism

Conductor Sarah Grace Williams preserved momentum throughout the sprawling movements and the composer’s wish to present deep emotion on a large scale but not let unnecessary sentiment compromise the security of structure and direction in music.

Effective choice of tempi especially enhanced the flow of the opening and final movements. The iconic timpani part known by fans of this work was well performed here. Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams kept the reaching nature of the Andante sostenuto second movement at a level of gentle poise as Brahms’ shifting patterns of tone colours moved smoothly about. The result was a hushed, hypnotic, forward moving  bulk of calm.

A highlight of this symphony’s agile interpretation was the sunny pastoral interlude which the third movement embodies. Fine playing from the winds, especially the clarinet theme, transported us to a gentle and well-balanced place.

Challenging rhythmic complexities and Brahms’ manipulations of orchestral textures were well-handled in this interpretation and they also rocketed the work to an exciting conclusion. The flow of developing ideas and changing colours were presented with easy eloquence in the final movement as it had been previously.

The successful juxtaposition of two giant Romantic period works was a bold programming choice. It was one which definitely paid off, cementing TMO’s ‘tour de force’ status in the local music scene very early in this year’s musical calendar.

 

PRELUDE IN TEA : THE STREETON TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

After a delicious afternoon tea we were treated to a magnificent concert by the Streeton Trio, part of the Prelude in Tea series of concerts held at the beautiful Independent Theatre.

The concert was given the umbrella title The Vienna Congress.

Before the concert began violinist Emma Jardine set the program in context, explaining the turbulent times of the period and the dominant influence of Napoleon Bonaparte. She advised that the program explored the complex musical situation in Vienna, the capital of European music at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Two decades of great cultural ferment saw the Vienna Congress (1814/1815) as the turning point between the ideals of the Enlightenment and those of the Restoration. What took place was a radical change in the social role of music, which was no longer used as an instrument of awareness and knowledge, but instead became ‘the opium of the masses ‘ and proved useful in disguising the harsh reality of post-Napoleonic and post-Enlightenment society. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : THE STREETON TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA PRESENTS HANDEL’S MESSIAH @ CITY RECITAL HALL

In the lead up to Lent and Easter we are very privileged to have the Brandenburg’s glorious performances of Handel’s THE MESSIAH, enthusiastically led and directed by Paul Dyer with the magnificent Brandenburg Choir, four soloists and a striking, very unusual and effective staging by Constantine Cosi.

Handel’s Oratorio on the life of Christ is divided into four ‘scenes’ : Darkness to Light , The Dream , Shame and Mourning, and Ecstatic Light.

THE MESSIAH follows the story of Christ from birth to crucifixion and resurrection, but it also examines Israelite history, exploring the prophets who preceded the Messiah (especially Isaiah) and looks forward to the birth of the Church. There is no single dominant narrative voice and little use is made of quoted speech.

The Orchestra, seated on a slightly raised platform, was in luminous form, and played with a warm, elegant tone on their period instruments – extra horns and drums were incorporated where necessary. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA PRESENTS HANDEL’S MESSIAH @ CITY RECITAL HALL

OMEGA ENSEMBLE-HAYDN AND MOZART @ THE UTZON ROOM

Above: Composer Ben Hoadley, whose Clarinet Quintet ‘Broken Songs’ was premiered in the concert.  Featured Image : violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto.

The first Master Series concert for the Omega Ensemble this year was a standing-room-only event at the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room. ” The crowd was treated to exciting versions of masterpieces for string quartet and clarinet quintet, as well as the premiere of Ben Hoadley’s new clarinet quintet, Broken Songs. ” A capable backbone for all items on the programme was the assembled string quartet of Natsuko Yoshimoto, Ike See(violins),Neil Thompson(viola) and Paul Stender(cello)

In general across all works this quartet securely delivered playing of precision and sensible dramatic depth. We were given an introduction to newer works on the programme and rediscovered well-known ones. A scintillating blend of individual expression resulted from this quartet’s balanced playing. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE-HAYDN AND MOZART @ THE UTZON ROOM

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : MURDER AND REDEMPTION @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

Featured image – Guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto.

This was not your standard Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) concert, but as always it featured absolutely superb playing by the ACO who were in inspired form and dynamically led by the charismatic, bouncing, at times close to dancing guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who has taken the place of Richard Tognetti, who is currently in residence at the Barbican in London. (The ACO will play at the Barbican next month).

The concert was divided into two halves,as befits the concert’s title. There was a fascinating blend and contrast of blues grass folk songs sung and played on guitar and banjo by  guest artist Sam Amidon, with a turbulent, passionate Janacek piece (his first string quartet, The Kreutzer Sonata, as well as a dazzling version of a John Adams work entitled, Shaker Loops (1947) .

In the first half, Murder, the turbulent , at times quite spiky Janacek piece was magnificently played by the ACO. The wprk was inspired by the Tolstoy novella of the same name. At one time there was a stormy argument between sections of the orchestra tensely, breathlessly played, and this was contrasted with more melancholic and reflective sections .

Amidon’s folk songs, played in both halves, appeared at first to be simple tunes but then proved to be more complex. In the first half, in the work Way Go Lily, there were rippling flowing rhythms.  How Come That Blood featured a fluid, clip clop almost galloping rhythm – Amidon on banjo , the orchestra accompanying him, and there was an interesting use of pizzicato.

For the first half the songs were arranged by Nico Muhly.  Amidon’s rough hewn, sincere vocal style gave his retelling of these folk songs a powerful punch.  Amidon’s raw playing contrasted with the more refined tomes of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

The Redemption set opening the second half was a selection of songs performed by Amidon and Kuusisto alone, in a delightfully intimate yet casual and relaxed manner. This contrasted with, and allowed some relief, from the darker subject matter of the program’s first half.

Kuusisto treated his violin more like a folk fiddler, and occasionally joined his voice to Amidon’s in a delightful performance that also included a showy violin solo.

This half also featured an acapella like, haunting and powerful version of Brackett’s Simple Gifts, (the most famous hymn of the Shaker sect) as sung by Amidon.

John Adams work Shaker Loops was rich and multi layered and featured an aching ‘centre’. At times, the piece evoked the ‘music of the spheres’, shimmering and delicate, at other the playing was strident, with bubbling violins and  cellos rumbling underneath.

This was a dazzling concert with a running time of two  hours and ten minutes.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s toured the concert  MURDER AND REDEMPTION nationally between the 2nd and 14th February.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra in Murder and Redemption was on national tour February 2 -14

https://www.aco.com.au

THE MARAIS PROJECT STARTS OFF THE YEAR FOR THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

Over the years Sydney Arts Guide has keenly followed the progress of this eclectic group. Next Sunday, The Marais Project begins its 2017 season with the concert IT TAKES TWO : A VIOL SPECTACULAR, the first of three very diverse events in its 18th year of fine, distinctive  musicianship.

Since its founding by Jennifer Eriksson in 2000, The Marais Project has released 5 CDs, three of which have been selected as “CD of the Week” on ABC Classic FM.  A 6th CD will appear in 2017.  The group regularly features in national and local studio broadcasts and radio interviews.  They have performed across Eastern Australia and as guest artists in New Zealand.

In an Australian first, IT TAKES TWO will see Erikkson perform  on both the acoustic and electric viola da gambas. Continue reading THE MARAIS PROJECT STARTS OFF THE YEAR FOR THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

THE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘HAYDN AND MOZART’ @ THE UTZON ROOM

The Omega Ensemble’s upcoming concert features this tantalising program : –

Debussy – String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
Ben Hoadley – Clarinet Quintet World Premiere
Haydn – String Quartet Op. 64, No. 5 ‘The Lark’
Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581

Of Haydn’s eighty-three string quartets The Lark is a perfect representative of the entire genre. Like the majority of string quartets throughout the history of the form, its four movements provide a superior entertainment in four acts, aptly described as ‘a story, a song, a dance and a party.’ Continue reading THE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘HAYDN AND MOZART’ @ THE UTZON ROOM

SYDNEY BAROQUE MUSIC FESTIVAL PRESENTS ‘NOBLE YOUTH’ @ GLEBE TOWN HALL

The Sydney Baroque Music Festival’s fourth venture will take place at the beautiful Glebe Town Hall. The festival is an entirely student-driven initiative bringing together young musicians from all over Australia who share a passion for early music. The musicians will be working intensively through the week of January 16-20th, to present the concert NOBLE YOUTH.

This year’s festival is mentored by baroque ensemble The Muffat Collective, and features the Collective’s Matthew Greco performing alongside exciting baroque flautist Mikaela Oberg in Telemann’s Concerto for Flute and Violin. Continue reading SYDNEY BAROQUE MUSIC FESTIVAL PRESENTS ‘NOBLE YOUTH’ @ GLEBE TOWN HALL

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : HAYDN’S PASSION @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

This was the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s (AHE) final concert for the year. The concert focused on the ‘Sturm and Drang’ movement of the 18th century, this concert was a treat in every way. The Sturm and Drang movement was characterised by drama and passion with sudden shifts of dynamics and rhythm. The four works presented in these concerts delivered these in spades.

The program consisted of three works by C.P.E Bach (son of Johann) together with Haydn’ Symphony no 49 (The Passion) to conclude. Guest director was the superbly talented Erin Helyard recent musical director for Pinchgut’s production of Theodora and he certainly raised this talented ensemble to new heights of excellence. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : HAYDN’S PASSION @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : NOEL! NOEL! @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

You can tell it’s Christmas with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) are performing this year’s version of Noel!Noel! their marvellous Christmas concert which is also touring to different cities and venues. Several performances have already sold out.

The atmosphere was as if we were transported to Europe and whisked to a huge Tudor mansion.  At others it was as if we were in a huge cathedral.

With the magnificent Brandenburg choir and stunning guest soloist delightful soprano Madison Nonoa from New Zealand, this was a terrific concert.

Established by Paul Dyer in 1999, the choir wows audiences performing both familiar Christmas favourites and rarely heard sacred works, ranging from the eleventh century through to the Baroque. Continue reading THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : NOEL! NOEL! @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL

LIEDER RECITAL @ THE SYDNEY UNITARIAN CHURCH DARLINGHURST

Join four of Sydney’s finest young singers and pianist Michael Curtain for an afternoon performance some of the greatest song cycles in the repertoire.

Complimentary glass of wine on arrival. Entry by donation.

Programme:

Beethoven- An die ferne Geliebte
Joel Scott, Tenor

Brahms- Vier ernste Gesänge
Jared Lillehagen, Baritone

Schumann- Dichterliebe
Kaine Hayward, Tenor

Mahler- Rückert Lieder
Andrew Williams, Bartione

The Lieder Recital takes place at the Sydney Unitarian Church  Darlinghurst this Sunday 18th December at 3 pm.

For more about Lieder Recital, visit

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AUSTRALIAN YOUTH ORCHESTRA IN CONCERT @ SYDNEY TOWN HALL

Join the Australian Youth Orchestra as they showcase the raw energy and exceptional talents of the next generation of Australia’s classical musicians. Brought together from around the country and under the deft baton of accomplished English conductor Andrew Gourlay, hear as these talented young players bring a popular selection of orchestral works to life.

Experience a diverse repertoire of classics from Rachmaninov’s triumphant Piano Concerto No.2 to Elgar’s beautifully moving Cello Concerto, performed with masterful skill of internationally renowned guest artist and cellist, Li-Wei Qin.

This very special concert takes place in the Australian Youth Orchestra’s 60th anniversary year.

DETAILS –
Thursday 16th February 2017, 7pm at the Sydney Town Hall.

For more about Australian Youth Orchestra In Concert, visit http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=AYOINCON17&v=STH
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SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR ANNOUNCES ITS 2017 SEASON

The Sydney Chamber Choir launched its 2017 season at an inner city function. Founded in 1975, the Choir has forged a reputation as one of Australia’s leading choral ensembles. 

Highly regarded for its interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque works, it is also a champion of contemporary Australian choral music, having commissioned and premiered scores of works by many established and emerging Australian composers.

In 2017 the Choir will be singing music by Hildegard von Bingen, Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Purcell, Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner, Schoenberg, Britten and others. Cantatas, opera, lyric scenes and chant will be heard resounding throughout the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, a  perfect venue for this remarkable ensemble of musicians to display their talents.

As is the  Sydney Chamber Choir’s tradition most of the soloists will come from  the Choir. However Richard Butler will sing the role of St Nicolas in the eponymous Britten cantata. The N.S.W Public Schools senior singers, under the direction of Elizabeth Scott, will join  Richard Butler and the Choir in this work.

Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR ANNOUNCES ITS 2017 SEASON

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN’S FAVOURITE

Featured pic – Lorenza Borrani. Pic by Edwina Pickles.

Under the excellent direction of guest director and violinist Lorenza Borrani, who clearly had a great rapport with the Orchestra, we were treated to a superb performance by the ACO.

The SCHNITTKE Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra was a striking, most unusual work in four movements that made us sit up and prick our ears.

The opening was questioning, sharp, spiky and emphatic. The second Allegretto movement was dance-like in atmosphere. The orchestral ensemble was very focused and driven. There was a use of pizzicatto. Sometimes the music felt like the whirling and turning of the spheres. The third movement was emphatic with ominous deep double bass.  Borrani was amazing in her solos, fiery and hypnotic yet tender and liquid as well.

In the fourth movement, Anthony Romaniuk’s harpsichord entered the piece at crucial moments, and he also performed  a short dazzling solo. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN’S FAVOURITE

LIVE @ LUNCH : THE VAMPIRE DIARIES @ THE CONCOURSE

The latest and last in this year’s series of Live at Lunch concerts was based on the idea of the spirit world /the occult and the magic of nocturnal love . Hence the title THE VAMPIRE DIARIES which Jane Rutter also announced had allusions to the very popular Harry Potter series.

Rutter was extremely Gothicky-elegant in a glittering black out fit with a cloak around her shoulders and a white scarf cravat around her neck. Guest artist Simon Tedeschi was stylish in a smartly cut dark suit.

The program opened with Bartok’s Hungarian Peasant Suite for Flute and Piano which was given a lyrical and seductive rendition. Rutter on her flute was shimmering whilst Tedeschi on piano turbulently accompanied  her. At times Tedeschi’s piano had a jazz feel to it, Continue reading LIVE @ LUNCH : THE VAMPIRE DIARIES @ THE CONCOURSE

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-MET CONCERT 5 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

 

Featured image: Artistic Director Sarah-Grace Williams conducts TMO.

The final concert in TMO’s Met Series for 2016 was as diverse and rich in entertainment value as all others this year. Two exquisite and challenging orchestral favourites were programmed alongside a recent Australian work featuring TMO’s Andrew Doyle as basset clarinet soloist.

Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826) created by a teenage Mendelssohn and Symphony No 7 (1812) composed by Beethoven in the final fifteen years of his life framed an exciting central work, Ornamental Air for Basset Clarinet and Orchestra (2007) by Elena Kats-Chernin. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-MET CONCERT 5 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

ACACIA QUARTET PRESENTS HARBOUR LIGHT @ THE UTZON ROOM, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

 

Acacia Quartet’s most recent concert, Harbour Light, flowed with luminous success around an appreciative audience in the Utzon Room space. The audience were given no less than two commissioned world premiere works by Australian composers. The concert’s title work, Harbour Light, was performed for the first time in a shiny new intimate guise for string quartet, pared down from its original orchestration for larger string ensemble.

The innate skill of Acacia Quartet to create and convey layered atmosphere came to the fore to unify the programme of six diverse works. The sprawling concert sequence evolved with successive and separate styles of light. Works with extra-musical hues and unique structures were finely wrought by the quartet. Regardless of compositional character, the communication to the audience was clear, beautifully balanced and evocative.

On a daylight-savings evening so close to our beloved Sydney Harbour, Australian composer Nick Wales’ Harbour Light was a textural treat linking us to our immediate surroundings with which to start. As we listened, sitting close to the water, the piece shimmered, shone, moved fluidly and offered much in the way of colour and compact sentiment. In the guardianship of Acacia Quartet, it did not suffer in the process of reduction from larger forces.

Compact sentiment and exquisite minimalist rendering followed in the quartet’s interpretation of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No 2 ‘Company’. Well nuanced and never overplayed, it was an accurate salute to Glass’ aesthetic and intricacies of revolving thematic minutiae.

Prior to interval, we heard Acacia Quartet present two very distinct voices in contemporary Australian composition. The world premieres of two Australian compositions were effectively juxtaposed with the individuality of Philip Glass. The new works were as arresting for their sonic effect as well as the impact on a concert environment in the way Glass introduced listeners to a new concert experience.

A highlight of the evening was the premiere of Sally Whitwell’s String Quartet No 1,  the rewarding local soundscape with the subtitle  ‘Face to the Sun’. Each of the four movements sketches aspects of Australian flora. Time periods  which once inspired emblematic transfer of these qualities to people’s names, such as in the time of Whitwell’s grandmother, named Beryl Boronia, are celebrated via this fine musical illustration.

This clever writing draws on a legacy of lush quartet sound from yesteryear as well as effects from the very modern arsenal of string playing. Both styles of playing were capably  offered up by Acacia Quartet, as the shapes and character of banksias, boronias, everlasting daisies and gumnuts were brought to life via charming and exciting vignettes from shifting time periods.

In a real shift of character prior to interval, the second premiere work was by the Australian-born Joe Twist. It was an exciting caricature and romp through stock standard musical styles. Spongebob’s Romantic Adventure continued the crescendo in boldness and momentum of colour which this concert programme’s first half was providing. Melodrama, stylistic tongue-in-cheek proximity and ultimately an hilarious hoedown variation of the Spongebob TV theme were played vibrantly, ensuring the work’s impact in a formal audience setting. The piece has many future performance possibilities for the quartet. Families and children would love it.

Following interval, larger works from American composers brought the listening experience into a new dimension with evocative music from Gershwin and film score composer Bernard Hermann. These sustained works were a satisfying way to conclude the evening’s diversity. Lullaby (1919) by George Gershwin goes a long way past its original purpose as an exercise in harmony for the student.

From its opening, the challenging and delicate exchange between quartet members created a seamless fabric under a high but hushed first violin. The inclusion of this piece was an extension  of  the calibre of string quartet blend and atmosphere heard in the rest of the concert. It also introduced the beautiful work and Gershwin’s output in this genre to many.

The sprawling and fantastic Echoes for string quartet by Bernard Herrmann led us through filmic, intense and purely beautiful soundscapes which filled the Utzon Room space. The complex and segmented work with shifting inflection and mood was well negotiated by Acacia Quartet.

The excited reception of this and all works  from the audience was proof of Acacia Quartet’s effective gifting on this night to us of delicate narratives, intensities, colours and shapes found in  compositions  for the string quartet from last century to now.

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR PRESENT A CONCERT FULL OF JOY

Featured photo – Pianist Kathy Selby.

For the latest concert combining the marvelous talents of the Willoughby Symphony and Choir, the concert hall at the Concourse was packed to the rafters and we were privileged to hear some ravishing, glorious playing and singing.

The program opened with a delightful , somewhat boisterous rendition of the Brahms Academic Festival Overture Op.80. Written for the University of Breslau, the piece was given a brisk, dynamic reading. Rather lighthearted, Brahms develops and expands the melodies of four well known student drinking songs and the piece features triumphant horns.

The audience loved the work and the orchestra was obviously enjoying itself under the very energetic direction of Dr Nicholas Milton. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR PRESENT A CONCERT FULL OF JOY

THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA WITH AVI AVITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Avi takes a bow

This was a marvelous, exuberant concert by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra as led by Paul Dyer AO and featuring the Israeli superstar of the mandolin Avi Avital who dazzled in a bravura performance .

Dyer emphatically led from the keyboard of his harpsichord. The Orchestra, for this concert trimmed to ten players, was in golden form, giving a performance which featured some lush, delicate playing and some finely nuanced phrasing.

The stage was very atmospheric, decorated with candles and hung with large, luminous stained glass lanterns, suggestive of a Baroque lounge room. Continue reading THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA WITH AVI AVITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

AUTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE – BEETHOVEN RECITAL @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Beethoven could not have imagined a more glorious backdrop to his music than we experienced on Saturday  15th October! Not the cherubs and ornate cornices of the Viennese concert halls but the heavenly vista of Sydney harbour seen through the panoramic windows of the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House.

We listened to a most interesting rendering of Beethoven’s  4th piano Concerto in G major and his Second Symphony, both transposed for a chamber ensemble and performed by the talented and enthusiastic Australian Haydyn Ensemble.

Clearly these musicians have a great depth of scholarship and performed on instruments from the time the music was composed. Both of these pieces were composed when Beethoven was almost completely deaf and both are reflective of his anguish, his joy in music and his pure genius of invention! Continue reading AUTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE – BEETHOVEN RECITAL @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

LIve at Lunch : Viva L’Italia : Life is Beautiful @ The Concourse Chatswood

Accordian player Marcello Maio

The latest delicious offering in the Live At Lunch series this was a wonderful short concert celebrating Italy in music.

Rutter was elegant in black slacks and a lacy top combined with red shoes. She was joined for this concert by Giuseppe Zangari on classical guitar and Marcello Maio on piano and piano-accordion. Rutter mostly used her favourite gold flute but also the piccolo depending on what was required and at times both she and Maio changed instruments mid piece.

The opening Sonata in A Major for Flute and Guitar by Giulani was charming and sprightly with the flute darting and swooping.

Drigo’s fluid Serenade from Les Millions D’Arlequin followed , with is circular melodies and was played with wonderful timing and phrasing (as were all the works selected).

Next came a crisp, sparkling yet lush version of Michel Peguri’s Bourrrasque.

A dynamic infectious performance by Maio on accordion followed.

Vivaldi’s Concerto RV93 in D Major for Guitar came next and was elegant, dreamy, idyllically pastoral and exquisitely refined. The faster, second section with Rutter on piccolo was more vibrant in mood. Continue reading LIve at Lunch : Viva L’Italia : Life is Beautiful @ The Concourse Chatswood