Classical Music

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

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENT ‘MIRACLE’ @ THE CONCOURSE 

Conductor Carol,yn Watson

Featured photo – Guest artist,  Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring, Claire Edwardes

Under the enthusiastic, precise and dynamic baton of Carolyn Watson, garbed dramatically in red and black, Willoughby Symphony Orchestra were in fine form with their latest concert, MIRACLE.

The first work gave the program its umbrella title, being Haydn’s Symphony No 96 in D The Miracle, so called because of the tale of the work’s premiere when a chandelier fell from the concert hall ceiling and narrowly missed the audience!

The first of the ‘London ‘ symphonies, it is in four movements and there were hints of the Beethoven symphonies and some surprises. The work begins dramatically with a strong, crashing opening and emphatic strings. The second movement contrasted with lyrical and stormy sections and had a quite balletic atmosphere full of airy elegance. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENT ‘MIRACLE’ @ THE CONCOURSE 

BALMAIN SINFONIA : CENTENARY CONCERT @ THE ITALIAN FORUM LEICHHARDT

Above: Tinel Dragoi performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 with the Balmain Sinfonia. Featured image: Director of Music for Balmain Sinfonia, Gary Stavrou OAM

This was Balmain Sinfonia’s 100th concert, and the orchestra’s popular contribution to the local performance scene since its inaugural concert in May 1992 is truly cause for celebration.

This milestone Balmain Sinfonia concert included the usual fare of an excited audience, a diverse concert programme and interesting programme notes to help unpack and enhance the works presented.

The evening also offered champagne for all in the crowd and interspersed with the music were tributes by Director of Music Gary Stavrou OAM to founding members of the orchestra.

Audience participation in the form of the signature music trivia or Mystery Music  for the chance to win tickets to future concerts continued to engage old and new audience members alike.

Collaboration between the orchestra and a local soloist again was a feature of this concert. As always it introduced the audience to a great work and an accomplished artist. This concert saw Romanian-born violinist Tinel Dragoi  join the orchestra  on the stage.

In this concert his intelligent and expressive rendering of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 in A major K 219 was a highlight of the first half.

In particular, the cadenza work was beautifully conveyed by this violinist’s intricate artistry. There was no showy or ingenuine note in his interpretation of the concerto. Instead, a simply elegant and exacting development of Mozart’s extensive musical ingredients and language ensued.

Mozartean drama and a sufficiently sympathetic accompaniment were provided by the smaller ranks of Balmain Sinfonia exposed in this work.

The first half of the concert began with two atmospheric works by the chemist-composer Alexander Borodin. For this celebratory concert, such a choice of composer rang out a keen note of comparison to formidable conductor Gary Stavrou, whose early qualifications were in pharmacy.

We heard Borodin’s descriptive works In the Steppes of Central Asia and the Prince Igor Overture. On this occasion the second work was especially successful in conveying the depth of tone colour and mood necessary for painting Borodin’s fine vistas and characterisations.

After interval the Balmain Sinfonia supplied us with more colourful playing as Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 in G major Op 88 was boldly delivered.

The first movement, allegro con brio, endeared us to Dvorak’s signature evocative and gentle development of musical material.

It also showed off the talents of Balmain Sinfonia in their centenary concert.

Through the remainder of this symphony we were taken on a quality excursion. Firstly, through an expanded adagio, here  well played to portray Dvorak’s unique approach to drama and also the legacy of such slow movements as written by Beethoven.

The orchestra contrasted this movement with a successfully lilting allegretto grazioso third movement and concluded with a fourth movement rich in brass fanfares and here with a well structured delivery of Dvorak’s version of the classic theme and variations structure. As in the Borodin works, there were repeated moments of fine playing from Balmain Sinfonia’s wind and brass choirs throughout this symphony.

Bravo and Happy Birthday to the Balmain Sinfonia for its 100th event. This is an achievement, as is its continued fostering of a firm fan base and team of capable volunteers. Both these are assets in the modern concert-making environment.

Balmain Sinfonia’s next performance on September 23 promises to entertain. It will include Khachaturian, Respighi, orchestra members playing Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Clarinet orchestra, and Mozart’s  Symphony No 25 in G minor K 183, which had its opening feature in the film Amadeus.

 

 

COMING SOON : ST PETER’S CHURCH AND SOLOISTS PERFORM ‘JUDITH’ AND THE FRENCH BAROQUE

The libretto is based on Biblical story of Judith (7-15). Judith, a beautiful widow is upset with her Israelite countrymen for not trusting in God to deliver their home, Bethulia, from their Assyrian conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid, Abra, to the Assyrian camp and promises the enemy general, Holofernes, information on the Israelites.

When she gains his trust, she is invited to a banquet in Holofernes’ tent where drinks himself into a stupor. When Judith gets him alone, she decapitates him. She takes his head back to Bethulia and her fearful countrymen. When the invading Assyrian army realizes they have lost their leader, they retreat.

The performance will be presented by the Choir and Soloists of St Peter’s, Surry Hills. and will be conducted by Eugene F. Raggio.

The St Peter’s community invite music lovers to an afternoon of good music and cheer.

St Peters Catholic Church is located at 235 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills. Entry is  via a private road off Marlborough St.

Tickets – $20 adults and $15 concession- can  be purchased at the door.

All ticket sales will go to raising money for a new Pipe Organ which is to be installed in 2018.

DATE FOR THE DIARY :-

18 June 2017 at 3 pm

For more about St Peter’s Choir & Soloists present Judith & the French Baroque, visit
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THOROUGHBASS PRESENT ‘OVERTURE AND CONCERTO’ @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY

 

Featured image – Michael Tsalka. Pic by Olga Masri de Mussali.

Thoroughbass is delighted to welcome back international keyboard specialist Dr Michael Tsalka in a concert of overtures and concertos for two harpsichords and strings. Tsalka, whose performances last year left audiences enthralled, joins Diana Weston to perform works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti and others.

Dr Tsalka walks the global stage performing hundreds of concerts each year in Europe, Japan, China, the USA and Australia. His repertoire spans the baroque, classical and romantic eras to the present day. His performances, whether on harpsichord, fortepiano, clavichord or modern piano are historically informed and full of musical integrity.

Bach’s concerto for Harpsichord and strings BWV 1055 will be well-known to many. Less well-known but no less worthy of performance are Georgio Benda and Alessandro Scarlatti’s concertos for the same combination. Continue reading THOROUGHBASS PRESENT ‘OVERTURE AND CONCERTO’ @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY

ANGELA HEWITT PIANO RECITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

This matinee event at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place was the final recital concert in Angela Hewitt’s recent national tour with Musica Viva. Hewitt hailed Musica Viva as world class prior to encores, recognising them as a world leader in tour presentation and support. This fine partnership was matched by exquisite interpretations of Bach and early Beethoven by Hewitt which reinforced her international superstar status.

The programme demonstrated pure balance and symmetry just as successfully as the pianist’s excellent and even command of fugue and counterpoint. Each half of the concert consisted of a substantial Bach Partita with a well-known Beethoven sonata to follow.

The Partita format was a fine vehicle with which to present Angela Hewitt’s consummate and quite legendary Bach interpretative skills. New and existing fans delighted in the fine control, contrasts in character between the dance movements and layers of nuance selected to create a Bach keyboard sound for the piano. This sound never directly imitated the Baroque instruments nor did it drown out the music’s subtleties by using sound options from the modern instrument’s arsenal. Continue reading ANGELA HEWITT PIANO RECITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

JENNY’S DREAM : TO PRODUCE AUSTRALIA’S FIRST ELECTRIC VIOLA DA GAMBA CD

Jenny Erikkson’s group Elysian Fields is Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble. Their dream/vision is to take one of the Western world’s oldest instruments into the 21st century! Her troupe is seeking funding help from music lovers to make this dream possible. 

Things are already in action. Leading jazz artists and composers Matt McMahon and Matt Keegan have each written a remarkable major song cycle for the CD – making them the first and second Australian composers ever to write vocal music for the electric gamba!  

Bassist Siebe Pogson has written several pieces as has Eriksson herself.  Each of these works has been premiered and “played in” to live audiences.   Continue reading JENNY’S DREAM : TO PRODUCE AUSTRALIA’S FIRST ELECTRIC VIOLA DA GAMBA CD

AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA: ‘UNFINISHED ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

A joyous celebration of Rossini and Schubert by the formidable Australian Romantic and Classical orchestra performed on dynamic period instruments.

The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra (ARCO) which specialises in Historically Informed Performance or ‘HIP’ – performed its second concert in the 2017 concert season. A superb Romantic and Classical program of Gioachino Rossini and Franz Schubert first time performed on beautiful period instruments in the perfectly intimate City Recital Hall.    

Sadly Richard Gill AO was unable to conduct this night’s performance due to his sudden indisposition. He was replaced on very short notice by the talented guest concertmaster Jakob Lehmann. We sensed from the start that we were in very capable hands. His passion and leadership shone through navigating the orchestra to its splendid finale.

Lehmann is currently concertmaster of the wonderful Anima Eterna Brugge and one of his chief interests is period performance, mostly of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, aptly stepping into Richard Gill’s significant musical shoes. Kudos to Lehmann for having lead ARCO to such a fine performance.   Continue reading AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA: ‘UNFINISHED ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

ACO SOLOISTS TAKE CENTRE STAGE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

This very exciting concert blended world premieres and nineteenth century Romanticism in a program of six relatively short works.

The program featured performances by three soloists – violinists Satu Vanska and Glenn Christensen and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve.

Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Andante (for her 1931 String Quartet) opened the concert. It began slowly almost eerily with sharp, spiky, dissonant, shimmering strings. The piece was intense and atmospheric and filled with moments of calm and jarring disharmony. The ACO’s renowned precision for detail was on show in terms of phrasing, articulation and the ability to keep body movement to a minimum.

Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor for two violins and cello with a glittering, crisp and precise performance displayed the ACO’s ability to be vigorous and exact, particularly in the opening movement. After a soft, rather tentative and slow start, the piece turned into something quite  tempestuous, though one section sounded like delicate raindrops. Continue reading ACO SOLOISTS TAKE CENTRE STAGE @ CITY RECITAL HALL

LIVE AT LUNCH : MONET : THE FLOWERS OF WAR @ THE CONCOURSE

 

Celloist David Pereira. Images by Steven Godbee

One hundred years after the First World War, bullets, bones and bombs are still being discovered by farmers in the fields of France. They remind us of the men of Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Germany, and France who died so painfully in the trenches in the rain and mud.

I was privileged to be at this latest Live at Lunch concert and hear this luminous, soulful performance.

The marvellous quartet of musicians consisted of Jane Rutter on flute, Tamara-Anna Cislowska on piano, David Pereira on cello and Christopher Lantham ( the director of The Flowers of War) on violin. Rutter wore a striking kimono/suit like outfit in turquoise and black the other performers were in orchestral black. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : MONET : THE FLOWERS OF WAR @ THE CONCOURSE

HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

This is the first time the Hong Kong Philharmonic has visited Australia in its 43-year history. Its 2017 Tour was led by internationally-renowned conductor maestro Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since the 2012/13 season, who conducted with elegance, aplomb and a terrific sense of timing and phrasing

The ambitious programme included the Australian premiere of Quintessence, a new work by Hong Kong composer Dr Fung Lam as well as Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 4 and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

The opening work Dr Fung Lam’s Quintessence which tries to define and express the Buddhist ideas of striving towards one’s highest goals and attainment. Fung Lam is the orchestra’s Director of Orchestral Planning and the first Hong Kong composer ever to be commissioned by the BBC.
Continue reading HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

 

Above : Composer of Songs From The Bush, Ian Munro. Featured image : Omega Ensemble clarinettist and Co-Artistic Director, David Rowden.

Omega Ensemble again presented a chamber music concert in the delectable Utzon Room setting which championed works combining the clarinet with string quartet.

David Rowden’s seamless and sonorous clarinet tone across all instrumental registers and compositional style spoke beautifully to us throughout the event, sensitively supported by the Omega Ensemble strings.

The five versatile musicians blended expertly in an eclectic programme featuring two recent Australian works. A rarely heard clarinet quintet from the late nineteenth century was introduced to the audience and a popular Mozart string quartet was thrown elegantly into the mix. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Precision, a wide spectrum of nuance and continued fine rapport as an orchestra allowed formidable expression throughout TMO’s latest Met Concert, entitled FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE at the Eugene Goosens Hall, the ABC Centre.

Getting the event off to a flying start was the overture to Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Ludmilla. A successful choice to initially energise the atmosphere, this piece rocketed out at a brisk pace.
In this way the concert was given an exciting opening from one of the fathers of traditional Russian music. TMO’s track record of excellence in delivery of dramatic musical moments with directness and solid character continued here.

Continue reading MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa have reunited for a glorious blend of Baroque music and circus at the City Recital Hall.

The performance was inspired by the Brandenburg’s ARIA Award-winning CD Tapas, which includes plenty of percussion, guitar and theorbo, and lashings of violin bravado, with music by Albéniz, Merula, Murcia, Martinez and more.

The two special guests were Baroque guitarist Stefano Maiorana from Rome and soprano Natasha Wilson from New Zealand making her Australian debut.

Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz’s choreography astutely blended sensational dazzling solos and breathtaking ensemble routines while always harmonising with the spirit of the music. It was a fluid combination of tumbling, gymnastics, balancing and aerial numbers , in various jaw-dropping sections making you blink and go “ I see it but I don’t believe it“. Dangerous dives, throws and catches were included as well as feats of strength and daring as well as sometimes triple-level human pyramids. Continue reading SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

Join the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) and Artistic Director Skye McIntosh as they present one of the world’s greatest forte-pianists, Melvyn Tan, in a program inspired by the beauty and romance of classical Paris.

Melvyn Tan, a pioneer of performance on historical instruments is renowned for his ‘silvery virtuosity’.  Exploration, insight and imagination are vital ingredients in Melvyn Tan’s blend of artistic attributes.

Tan will perform the Mozart concerto No.18 in B flat major, written for the Parisian pianist, Maria Theresa von Paradis.

The Ensemble will also present the Australian premiere of a symphony by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the legendary African Parisian violinist, director, swordsman, soldier and composer, known as The Black Mozart. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

GLORY : WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN CONCERT @ THE CONCOURSE

Featured image : Chilean born Composer in Residence Daniel Rojas.

This was a magnificent, thrilling performance by the combined forces of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir under the umbrella title GLORY (no, not the song from Pippin) as conducted by maestro Simon Kenway.

Charismatic Kenway was energetic, enthusiastic and precise and introduced each of the three works briefly putting them in context. Under his baton the Orchestra was in fine form and displayed  a lyrical, warm tone.

The concert opened with a lush, intense presentation of Faure’s Pelléas and Mélisande, a suite in four movements of Faure’s music for Maternlick’s play.

The magical mysterious discovery of Melisande is described in the first section – the Prelude began in traditional French Baroque form, rather slow and stately with lush strings that ebbed and flowed throughout. The section featured stormy horns and woodwind.

In  the passionate second movement, Melisande at the spinning wheel  is evoked – you can hear the whirring as she spins.  Faure captures her charm and apparent innocence. Prick your ears to listen for the interplay of soprano and tenor melodies in conversation, especially when the second theme emerges from solo clarinet and horn. The oboe however is the primary ‘singer’ of this song without words.

The third section is the famous Sicilienne featuring a delicate, limpid flute solo, and the orchestra shimmering and bubbling.

Then came the turbulent finale of the death of Melisande, which was played at the end of Fauré’s funeral, as his coffin was carried from the church.

The next piece in the program was a Latin piano concerto by  Dr Daniel Rojas, Composer-in-Residence. Dr Rojas is renowned as an award-winning composer specialising in the Latin American aesthetic, as well as an acclaimed pianist with stunning live improvisations.

Chilean born, Rojas draws on his heritage and a broad musical palette that includes Latin American indigenous, folk, classical and popular traditions, as well as Western classical and jazz techniques.

His concerto blended refined classicism and explosive Latin -American rhythms in three challenging movements.

Rojas’ playing was very energetic and emphatic. He played with enormous authority and exceptional technique – at times shimmering and birdlike, at other times blisteringly fast and joyously explosive when it came to the Latin-American dance rhythms.

The first movement was a showcase for Rojas’ bravura playing, thoughtfully accompanied by the Orchestra. The second movement was more a dialogue between piano and orchestra and the third movement included achingly beautiful violin segments.

The thrilling dynamic work was brought to a breathless , exuberant finish . For this work Kenway was hidden from the view of most of the audience – he was behind the piano so the Orchestra could see him.

The audience applauded rapturously and for an encore we heard Rojas’ arrangement of the soulful, passionate Resureccion del Angel, by Astor Piazzolla.

After interval came the very strong and powerful performance of Poulenc’s Gloria , with Laura Scandizzo as soprano soloist .( Scandizzo has previously performed with the Willoughby Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for their Joy concert) .Among other choreographers Sir Kenneth Macmillan and Graeme Murphy have used this work for their ballets . Poulenc’s work is short and intense. First performed in 1961 it is a setting of the Gloria from the Catholic Mass in Latin in six short movements. It is full of joy yet threading through it is humility and a luminous clarity.

The packed Choir and Orchestra were superb in a thrilling performance. From the start we become aware of its human focus yet grand scope – a lofty fanfare segues into a somewhat lighter register blowing away hints of royalty or superior aloofness penetrating chords contribute to the sense of continuing quest , but this ebbs as the choir becomes a corroborative authority figure over eddying strings. We are taken on a wheeling kaleidoscopic journey of emotions including wonder, jubilation and satisfaction as well as humility.

The opening was bright and stately the chorus entering with a prominent dotted figure to the word ‘Gloria’, which forms the basis of this movement.In the second movement Laudamus Te the choir bubbled and rippled with pairs of voices -; altos and basses , sopranos and tenors – exchanging a series of short, succinct phrases. In the Domine Deus,with its glorious flute accompaniment, Scandizzo was pleading, sombre and reflective. In the fourth movement the choir and orchestra combined in a lush thrilling blend of six bubbling melodies.

In the Domine Deus and Agnus Dei there was an ominous ticking sound underlying its relentless ,sweeping rhythms .Listen out for the eight point harmony of the Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris and the soaring final Amen as sung by Scandizzo and then echoed by the choir with haunting woodwind brings everything to a radiant conclusion.

Running time 2 hours 10 minutes (roughly) including interval.

GLORY by the Willoughby Symphony was at the Concourse April 29 & 30 2017

 

A PRELUDE IN TEA : MARK ISAACS @ THE INDEPENDENT

The perfect Sunday afternoon out!

A PRELUDE IN TEA is a Sunday chamber music series offering a delicious afternoon tea as a prelude to a virtuosic afternoon concert of music at the splendid Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

Whilst last Sunday’s performance was not quite the Chamber music that some had subscribed to it was nevertheless a very enjoyable one.

This month’s recital featured the accomplished and renowned Australian pianist and composer Mark Isaacs.

Isaacs replaced the previously scheduled Enigma Trio on extremely short notice after a 12 month absence from the recital stage. He had just a mere two weeks to prepare and perform a lovely program of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Satie, Poulenc as well as playing some of his own original compositions, all delivered with fervour and passion.

Isaacs is one of the few musicians with interests both in the classical and jazz music world including film, television and theatre. His output encompasses both classical (over 90 works) and jazz, and takes in orchestral music – including a symphony (2013) as well as works for piano and orchestra

The concert began with Chopin’s Nocturne in D flat Major, Op. 27 No. 2, a glorious piece of music in Lento sostenuto style i.e. “slow and sustained”. His left hand played beautiful arpeggios throughout the entire piece and his right hand brought out the melody in a sustained yet delicate manner. His crescendos and decrescendos were gradual and the cadenza towards the end was delivered superbly.

What followed next were Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 3 (“Tristesse”) with its poetic and lingering ‘sad’ melody played confidently by Isaacs with feeling and emotion. It’s a most beautiful melody. This was followed by the Etude Op. 25 No.  1 “Aeolian Harp” with its flowing use of rapid arpeggios requiring both dexterity and velocity.

Next came 3 Rachmaninoff Preludes in D major, Op. 23 No. 4, Prelude in E flat major, Op. 23 No.6 and Prelude in G sharp minor, Op. 32 No.12. The soulful melancholy melodies and noted use of arpeggios in these piece suited this pianist well.

The Debussy ‘Arabesque No. 1’ piece followed. One could sense that this piece resonated strongly with this pianist. The flowing, melodic and impressionistic style of Debussy has been quoted as an influence on some of Isaac’s style and compositions.

Eric Satie Gymnopedie No. 1 followed played in a highly restrained soulful manner completing the first half of the program with Francis Poulenc ‘Intermezzo No. 2 in D flat major’.

The second half of the program followed after a short interval.

Isaac’s performed excerpts from his “Children’s Songs (2011) original compositions No. 2 “Gentle Swing’, No. 4 Lullaby 1 and No. 18 Absheid (nicht). These are amongst a collection of eighteen piano pieces that describe a childhood scene or mood and contain both classical and jazz elements. The mood of these pieces were a mixture of the wistful and playful with the tempo at a moderate pace. Gentle Swing (#2) was very soothing and innocent, while Lullaby (#4) could almost put the listener to sleep. Abscheid (#18) was also hypnotic and serene.

The concert ended with the world premiere of “Three Impromptus (2017)” which was quite a treat. These pieces were entirely extemporised i.e. the pianist just made the pieces up on the spot without any prior idea of what he was going to play.

Isaac’s classical background and considerable technique shone through. The first piece commenced with gusto, forte with a high use of octaves delivering a forceful lovely melody. The second and third pieces were more melodic, beautiful and soulful with lots of chord progression.

Isaac’s has described his third piece as “quite grandiloquent”, “being surprised when it came out like that” and “I just play what I hear in the moment”. I would most certainly have to agree with him.

After a resounding applause he treated the audience to his unique jazz version of the “Wave” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, the famous Brazilian bossa nova composer.

This was a delightful concert featuring a pianist playing classical music with passion.

Be sure to see Mark Isaac perform jazz with his new trio at Foundry 616, Ultimo on Wednesday May 17 2017Together with his new trio they will be exploring great melodies – whether standards or “not-so-standards” – with fervour and lyricism.

 

OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘SONGS FROM THE BUSH’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Featured photo- Artistic Director David Rowden.

The clarinet takes the spotlight in this concert of deeply moving and lyrical chamber music.

Busoni’s lesser-known Suite for Clarinet and String Quartet in G minor is filled with beautiful lyricism and driving rhythms that display a Romantic musical language but is looking towards the future. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘SONGS FROM THE BUSH’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

LIVE @ LUNCH : FLUTE SPIRITS AND THE SEASONS @ THE CONCOURSE

 

This was a  very exciting, dynamic and unusual concert, part of the Live at Lunch series at the Concourse, devised and presented by internationally renowned flautist Jane Rutter.

The performance opened dramatically with a very unconventional version of the traditional balled The Minstrel Boy featuring a new arrangement by Jane Rutter. Rutter, wearing a  heavily brocaded kimono like outfit with a gold outer layer over pink and green floral underlay, was superb on flute with Blak Douglas equally good on didgeridoo.

Rutter then went on to  talk about how she has a great sense of belonging to the land and country and its songlines and how the flute and the didgeridoo are two of the world’s instruments.

Continue reading LIVE @ LUNCH : FLUTE SPIRITS AND THE SEASONS @ THE CONCOURSE

SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR: GERMAN ROMANTICS @ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

Above: Conductor Sam Allchurch. Featured Image: Members of the Sydney Chamber Choir- Photo Credit Nick Gilbert

The Sydney Chamber Choir has started its impressive 2017 season with a concert swathed in exciting emotional moments and exquisite restraint. Audience members who can attend all events in this season will cherish some special experiences of major works. The choir’s skilfully balanced programmes will also successfully juxtapose smaller works from many different time periods.

For this ‘German Romantics’ concert the choir was led by Sam Allchurch in a joyous cavalcade of German choral music. The selected works ranged in chronology from Schubert’s Gott ist mein Hirt (The Lord is my Shepherd) composed in 1820 to Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth) written in 1907.                   Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR: GERMAN ROMANTICS @ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

THE CHANCELLOR’S CONCERT @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

This was a thrilling concert in the beautiful , elegant Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Orchestra under maestro Eduardo Diazmunoz was magnificent. Diazmunoz’s conducting was precise, energetic, refined and mostly restrained, except in the case of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring during which he was jumping around,

After the introduction and welcoming speeches by the Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AM ,the opening work was the delightful world premiere of Anne Boyd AM”s Olive Pink’s Garden which requires an absolutely HUGE orchestra,

Boyd’s composition is inspired by the work of anthropologist Olive Muriel Pink, after which a beautiful park in Alice Springs was created,             Continue reading THE CHANCELLOR’S CONCERT @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

BALMAIN SINFONIA IMPRESSES WITH ITS FIRST CONCERT FOR 2017

 

Director of Music for the Balmain Sinfonia, Gary Stavrou was awarded an OAM in the 2017 Australia Day awards. The orchestra’s first concert illustrated yet again the calibre of his service to the Sydney music scene. The orchestra performed admirably under his baton in a diverse and artistically challenging programme which featured a broad historic swoop of music from Mozart to Mahler.

Exciting as always was the procuring of a local soloist of high standard to collaborate with Stavrou and the orchestra. This time, much awarded soprano Zoe Drummond  demonstrated how effective the choice of a vocalist can be as a soloist in an orchestral concert. As in past concerts, the Balmain Sinfonia did rise to the occasion as a very sympathetic accompanist for the tonal colour of a vocal soloist.

The concert opened with an arrangement of Debussy’s Petite Suite originally composed for piano four hands in 1889. Each of the four movements was realised and performed with admirable clarity and appropriate sense of character. Continue reading BALMAIN SINFONIA IMPRESSES WITH ITS FIRST CONCERT FOR 2017

AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA : ‘ITALIAN ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Established in 2013 by Richard Gill AO, Rachael Beesley, Nicole Van Bruggen and Benjamin Bayl, the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) has adopted a thematic approach to its repertoire. This was exemplified by its recent concert Italian Romance at the City Recital Hall  which featured works by Beethoven, Hugo Woolf and Mendelssohn.

In the first half of the program the Orchestra was a smaller ensemble and stood. Beethoven’s Corialanus Overure was a particular choice as an example of Romantic Music. The work is not based on the Shakespeare play but on the equally gruesome story of a Roman General. The piece was played with precision and wonderful rhythm by the Orchestra. It was very much a  ‘Sturm and Drang’ experience.

Beethoven’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra No 2  featured Rachel Beesley as the soloist. Beesley played with tenderness and warmth, and created a wonderful dialogue with the woodwind section.

The next work which the Orchestra played was Beethoven’s 12 Contradances for Orchestra. Most of the Contradances were just 32 bars in length and the Orchestra glided through each dance to create a seamless whole. The joyful music was however made more poignant with Gill reading out extracts from a letter which Beethoven wrote to his brother about his impending deafness.

The Orchestra’s performance of The Italian Serenade by Hugo Woolf featured a delightful conversation between the violin and cello.

The Orchestra reconvened after interval with a larger ensemble and delivered an impressive performance of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. The remarkable, glorious wall of sound that this Orchestra achieved was in spite of the fact that it was about half the size of a full Orchestra.

The success of  this pleasing concert can also be attributed to the concert’s guest conductor Benjamin Bayl. His relaxed yet disciplined conducting brought out the best in the Orchestra.

ARCO performed its concert Italian Romance at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place on Saturday 25th March.

 

LAUNCH OF WESTERN SYDNEY YOUTH ORCHESTRA @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES

It was dry if cloudy at this invite only launch held in the undercover courtyard at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.

Ms Yarmila Alfonzetti, Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Youth Orchestras, opened the proceedings, welcoming us and making a speech reminding us that it marks thirty years since the passing of Peter Seymour, the founder of the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

In her speech she spoke of how, ‘Music is about sharing, giving and connecting and that it is very exciting to be part of this launch and founding something new and inspiring  which makes music further accessible to all.”

She also said big ‘thank yous ‘ to the founding partners of the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra including Fort St Capital and Dixon Advisory, as well as the Riverside.
Ms Amanda Chadwick, Administrator, City of Parramatta Council spoke next, mentioning the other VIPS attending and the recent release of Parramatta’s Cultural statement

.She discussed the cultural statement which was about how Parramatta Council is promoting growing and celebrating culture and enthusiastically welcomed the partnership between Sydney Youth Orchestra and Riverside. She spoke of how , ‘Talent comes from every suburb and we are looking at an exciting journey, breaking down barriers and creating new opportunities.”

David Borger, Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber spoke next. He reminded us that the Orchestra has given many talented young musicians a chance to rise to the next level, and that it is a training ground for professionals. He said that the Sydney Business Chamber is trying to provide funding to break the tyranny of distance and allow for travel and expansion of cultural programs and events.

Steve Hawkins of Fort Street Advisers said that opportunities for advancement should not be defined by postcode. The launch of the Western Sydney SYO creates a platform for the next great wave of musicians who come from the area.

The final speaker was the Hon Stuart Ayres MP, Minister for Western Sydney who excitedly declared that this would be the start of a new chapter in the story of the Sydney Youth Orchestra .

The new Orchestra’s area covers  from Penrith to Sutherland. He is hoping that the Western SYO will draw people from a wide geographical area, and said that this was all about providing high quality education and music for the area. Mr Ayers also referred to the upcoming national and international tours by the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

The launch concluded with a performance of Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov ’s Capriccio Espagnol, dynamically conducted by James Pensini and beautifully played by the Orchestra.

Guests then mingles, and further sampled the finger food and drinks on offer.

The first performance by the new Western Sydney Youth Orchestra will be this coming weekend Sunday 26 March at 2 pm