This wonderful concert was performed by the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra as part of the MDCH ( Melbourne Digital Concert Hall) series but was filmed in the Cell Block Theatre Sydney.There was a short welcome and introduction by Chris Howlett of the MDCH.

The co-artistic directors of the ARCO are Rachael Beesley and Nicole van Bruggen .Each work was introduced and placed in context by flautist Georgia Browne, who mentioned that her period flute was very ‘high tech’ for the time.

First up was Carl Friedrich Abel’s (1723-1787) – Flute Quartet in A major No.2 Op.12 . in three movements. Though relatively obscure today, a student of Bach , during the mid to late 1700’s Abel was a major musical figure. He obtained a coveted position in the court orchestra at Dresden, moved to England to become chamber-musician to Queen Charlotte and in 1764 or 1765, established with Johann Christian Bach, the Bach-Abel concerts, England’s first subscription concerts.

The first movement was bright, bubbly and dance like with a circular rhythm. It resonated with energy and featured Georgia Browne on a very cheerful period flute and the strings vibrating underneath.

The second movement was rich and luscious , slower and more reflective , the flute behaving a like a soprano soaring in an aria , the other three entwining, encircling and agreeing.

In the third and final movement we heard the birdlike flute dart and tease the other three, who bat it away, so to speak.

The second work on the program was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) Flute Quartet in D major K 285 written for flute violin viola and cello which was composed in 1777, one of the ‘Mannheim” quartets written where they stayed for some months during the inauspicious tour to Paris, during which Mozart’s mother passed away. The Quartet is one of a pair commissioned by Ferdinand Dejean, a rich Dutch merchant and amateur flautist. The flute is treated as almost a solo instrument.

Where the first movement is a question and answer discussion between the flute and the strings in a very animated discussion. Browne on flute leads and shows off with some breathlessly fast playing while the strings flow underneath.

The second movement creates a dreamy mood and is far slower with pizzicato on the strings – ravishing and exquisite . The flute has the main melody, the strings murmuring accompaniment underneath.Then with Browne on flute there is a sudden change to a fast and boisterous group discussion with the insistent flute sparkling in ornamental trills , spills , darts and flourishes.

The third work was Mozart’s String Quartet in C major K 157 with Julia Russoniello on violin.It is an early work , written while he was a teenager in Milan.
The richly textured first movement was eloquent and passionate with shimmering, emphatic strings in a lilting, circular melody. Listen out for the use of syncopation and you can also hear how Mozart was working on an opera (Lucio Silla ) at the same time.

In the pensive second movement with its lush, aching melancholy violins we heard the cello mourning, the violins lamenting in answer in a poignant ebb and flow of sighs and swaying rhythm.

The third movement , a brief presto , with its scampering start, was a spirited group discussion led by Matthew Greco on violin and then there was a scampering coda.

For the final work , Abel ‘s- Flute Concerto No.5 in G major , the ensemble grew to six with the inclusion of Simon Martyn-Ellis on theorbo and Kirsty McCahon on double bass in three movements was delightful .In the first movement , which has a brisk opening , Browne on the flute is chirpy and showing off , at times soaring. The strings listen and add an underlying pulsating rhythm. Georgia Browne on flute has as astonishing fluttering flute ‘aria’.

The rather languid second movement , with its oozing strings and melancholy flute leading the melody is slower in tempo.

The third movement features fast furious strings and a bright flute that confidently flounces, surges and shows off, leading the animated group discussion.

An enchanting, delightful concert.

Running time 70 minutes.

The Australian Classical and Romantic Orchestra in MOZART AND ABEL was performed 23 October 2020

Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)
Flute Quartet in A major No.2 Op.12
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Flute Quartet in D major K 285
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
String Quartet in C major K 157
Carl Friedrich Abel
Flute Concerto No.5 in G major