Australian Chamber Orchestra : Beethoven and Mozart V @ City Recital Hall Angel Place

Richard Tognetti. Photo by Mick Bruzzese.
Richard Tognetti. Photo by Mick Bruzzese.

This was another glorious concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Under the charismatic, dynamic leadership of Richard Tognetti the ACO was in magnificent form. There was wonderful ensemble playing providing a lush, warm tone combined with marvellous phrasing. Tognetti’s playing was simply dazzling and hypnotic.

First on the programme was the Bach Contrapunctus 1-4 from The Art of Fugue. This piece was played with a glowing warm sound and compelling precision and timing.

The first movement had enchanting cascades and ripples of repetition. The second movement was faster and was more of a dialogue between the two sections of the orchestra. The third movement was powerful and contemplative. This was in contrast to the fourth movement which was fleet, spiky and featured pizzicato for the beginning.

Next came the sublime Mozart Violin Concerto No 5 in A Major K219 aka ‘Turkish’ which burst off to an emphatic start. It was crisply ,delicately nuanced in its playing.

The first movement was flowing with circular rhythms whilst the second movement was far more melancholic. The piece utilised the entire Orchestra. The third movement was seemingly faster and more impatient, with the violin playing skittering, fiery and passionate.

Mention must also be made of the use of horns in this work. Tognetti’s solos throughout ( it needs to be noted that he wrote the interlopated Cadenzas himself) were ravishing and mesmerizing, and full of sensitive bravura playing and pulsating passion.

This Mozart work is a lyrical, poetic fantasy blending elements of opera and classical and Baroque concerto reconfigured with lofty cantabile and an understated sense of grandeur and hopefulness.

The piece ended with rapturous applause which took us to interval.

The Beethoven for the second half , the String Quartet in BFlat Major Op 130 and the Grosse Fugue Op133, featured Tognetti’s arrangements for strings. The piece featured restless dynamism and Intense passionate playing continued throughout. Sparkling circular rhythms were contrasted with flowing, more melancholic tones.

The third movement shimmered, with the cellos muttering in insistent undertones. The fourth movement was lush and pulsating, with the melody stated and taken and shared around by the orchestra.

The fifth movement, the soaring sublime Cavatina, was gentle, fragile and lyrical with surges of passion. The tumultuous Grosse Fugue was in great contrast, with a furiously explosive start and strong, spiky violins. Their stridency settled somewhat to a slower more ‘singing ‘ passage that led to a scurrying ending.

With its combination of late Baroque, close to modern music, and a couple of rarely heard masterpieces, this latest concert by the  Australian Chamber Orchestra set the Recital Hall at Angel Place alight.

Running time – roughly 2 hours 15 including one interval

The ACO in Beethoven and Mozart V played the City Recital Hall between the 14th and the 20th May having also travelled to Newcastle, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.