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.

There was a frenetic conversation between the various sections of the Orchestra. The jaunty jazz like feeling changed to a melancholy lament to bring the piece to a close.

We were then privileged to hear selections from Schubert’s 5 Minuets and 6 Trios. Minuet 1 Trio 1 , Trio 11 were sweetly refined yet boisterous and stately. Elegant and courtly they seduced us with their circular melodies. Trio 11 was rather fiery and passionate. Minuet 11 had an emphatic opening while the two trios of Minuet 111 were calmer and more restrained. Minuets 1V and V were of a more upbeat atmosphere , yet with a softer section , with darting circular repeated rhythms.

After interval there was a magnificent performance of the BEETHOVEN (arr. strings) String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op.131 in seven short movements . The opening movement, a fugue, sublimely played, was piercing and heartbreaking.

The second movement was in a more genial, lighter tone yet still thoughtful .The third movement featured surging strings. The melody was stated and passed around the various section of the Orchestra who clearly showed great enjoyment in their playing.

The fourth movement featured gliding strings in a somewhat lighter mood, it was rather a circular discussion between the two halves of the Orchestra. In the fifth movement the spiraling melody was taken, shaped, ebbed and flowed, and was then repeated. The piece also featured a waltz like section.

The sixth movement opened emphatically, scurrying and darting strings with the use of pizzicato later. It was performed at a brisk pace.

The final seventh movement had a whirlwind feel yet also had lyrical sections. There was a galloping stormy section and we returned to the melancholy atmosphere that was present throughout the piece and then we were brought to a rather abrupt conclusion.

Running time 1 hour 45 including one interval.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra in BEETHOVEN’S FAVOURITE has performance dates at the City Recital Hall and the Concert Hall  Sydney Opera House until 28th November.


SCHNITTKE Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra
SCHUBERT 5 Minuets and 6 Trios, D.89
BEETHOVEN (arr. strings) String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op.131