All posts by Paul Nolan

Paul Nolan was born on the New South Wales North Coast. He has been involved with musical theatre and choral groups on the NSW North Coast and in Sydney. Paul has had poetry published in various periodicals. He is trained in classical piano and has a Bachelor of Music from the UNSW.


Recorder soloist Alicia Crossley joined Acacia Quartet for the ‘Muse’  concert and recording project of Australian works. Featured image: watercolour artwork by Clémentine Campardou (Blule) inspired by the Muse project.

This concert and CD launch of ‘Muse’ was an inspiring contribution to the Australian live and recorded music scene for 2018 and for many years to come. The blend of recorder virtuoso Alicia Crossley with the expressive and stylistically flexible powerhouse of Acacia Quartet yielded exciting results.

The works both on CD and heard live in concert were all by Australian composers. These works were commissioned, adapted or freshly recorded to make this project a significant musical event. The contribution of printed programme, CD cover design and other artworks from visual artist Clémentine Campardou’s watercolour workshop to the event merchandise elevated this concert to classy festival status.

What was truly classy and more touching about this afternoon however was the exposure and blend of recorders with the colourful and precise instrument we have come to know as Acacia Quartet. The string instruments demonstrated seamless blend to evoke vivid atmospheres and to speak as one. Also a thrill at this concert was the keen balance with the quartet and promotion of the recorder family by Alicia Crossley, correctly described in her programme bio as “a recorder rockstar” (Fish Fine Music) Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET AND ALICIA CROSSLEY- ‘MUSE’ CONCERT AND CD LAUNCH @ THE UTZON ROOM


Above : Violinist Nicola Benedetti played Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Photo credit : Simon Fowler.  Featured image :  trio members Nicola Benedetti (violin), Alexei Grynyuk (piano) and Leonard Elschenbroich (cello). Photo credit: Vancouver Recital Society.

A huge thanks must go to Musica Viva and Artistic Director Carl Vine for rounding off the 2018 International Concert Season by bringing this exciting piano trio to our shoresfor the first time. The solid global solo reputations of Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk precede them. The virtuosic calibre of their solo lines when combined in balanced and vivid chamber music works made a memorable debut for the second Sydney concert.

The rewarding programme also began with works for two of the trio members at a time to completed the concert’s first half. In this way virtuosic communication by cellist Elsenbroich and violinist Benedetti as well as the consummate skill of accompanist Grynyuck were showcased in no less than two challenging sonatas by Prokofiev.

Leonard Elschenbroich dug deep into  Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata in C major Op 119 to offer us beautifully delicate moments of refined tone and challemged us with prolonged focussed sections of loaded stillness. Moments of string effects such as pizzicato and multiple stop strumming brought us a fascinating array of colour. Prokofiev’s inventiveness on the cello was ably supported at all times by the piano.

Fireworks followed with Benedetti’s rendering of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Continuing the all-Prokofiev  first half with sonatas from the 1940’s, This violinist introduced herself to Sydney audiences in stunning style. The unique narrative thread of this work, with Prokofiev’s concise gesturing and angular twists, was in good hands here. This violinist’s signature precision and widely varied emotional colouring was impressive.

At times in this work even a single note or small phrase fragment delivered by Benedetti spoke volumes. The support from Grynyuk’s accompaniment was once again suitably pointed and exciting. A refined and eloquent balance was heard across the shifting textures.

The concert’s highlight came with the fine soloists collaborating as a trio after interval. Very satisfying in the trio format was their choice of Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde (Piano Trio No 2) from 2002. This work filled the Musica Viva concert criteria of visiting artists playing new or recent Australian

This trio displayed a keen aptitude for new music in a beautiful interpretation of the fragments of atmosphere which make up Kerry’s work that explores seasonal contrasts in nature. This was a seamless reading of the score by the ‘BEG’ Trio, continuing the ensemble balance displayed previously during the instrumental sonatas with piano.

The flautato string effects were particulary beautifully here. They were reflected in the piano with carefully chosen degrees of nuance from the softer dynamic spectrum.

Closely nterlocking intimacy and elegance continued in the performance of Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. Although the earliest work in the programme by decades, Ravel’s meticulous craftmanship made it a perfect match to join the other works this concert programme.

With this trio performing, this  work came alive with a spontaneity and respect for the architecture. The arsenal of virtuosic resources at this ensemble’s disposal presented reiterations of motives such as the first movement theme with a gorgeous subtlety and persistently clever variation.  This made Ravel’s work a fresh and thoroughly engaging conclusion to this concert of ensemble gems various.

Our appetite for this trio’s special brand of solo and ensemble wonderful was truly piqued as Musica Viva brought this group to our attention and also brought their International Concert Season  for 2018 to a stunning close.



Above :  Musica Viva  FutureMakers for 2018-2019. Pianist Aura Go and percussive artist Matthias Schack-Arnott. Featured image : Pianist Aura Go, photo credit: Maarit Kytoharju

Pianist Aura Go is one of two artists selected by Musica Viva to participate in the FutureMakers initiative for 2018-2019. Her recent recital as part of the Sydney Opera House’s Crescendo series for emerging artists quickly demonstrated her potential and worth as an artist to foster innovative musical exchange in the decades ahead.

Her debut Sydney concert, In the Changing Light : Colour Poems for Piano was a fine start to such practice, featuring a concert structure and feel which was a fresh, imaginative and well explained group of musical poems, captivatingly played and cleverly structured.

As a selected musician in this initiative, concerts such as this engaging Utzon Room event will exist alongside networking opportunities and the creation of a major musical project. It was quickly evident that Auro Go’s return to Australia to take part in this initiative will be an exciting and productive time. Continue reading AURA GO PIANO RECITAL : UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


Above : Composer Jim Coyle, whose new work ‘Dancing with Billy Bray’ received a world premiere by TMO in this concert. Featured image : TMO Principal Cello Ezmi Pepper, soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

The Metropolitan Orchestra ended its 2018 Met Concert series in very fine form with a trio of exciting events making up the programme for the orchestra and audience. A work from local composer Jim Coyle in world premiere began the evening. A TMO principal collaborated as soloist with the orchestra, showcasing TMO’s comprehensive talent and capabilities.

The third feature of this concert, ‘Drama’, was a major work of the orchestral repertoire being presented for the audience to discover or revisit. This work further illustrated TMO’s skill as an interpreter of significant works from the canon. They have often filled the role of audience educator and provider of significant listening experiences for the lovers of orchestral music.

Dancing With Billy Bray for orchestra by Jim Coyle was a stunning opening to the event. The narrative traced with challenging energy aspects of a larger than life character in Cornwall. during the nineteenth century. When depicting the person, actions and environment of the miner turned preacher, Coyle wrote for orchestra with impressive subtlety and detail. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : MET CONCERT # 5 @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL


Andras Schiff returned to Sydney after an absence of two decades to wow Sydney audiences in the Musica Viva Gala Piano Recital.

The return of András Schiff to Australian stages after a long absence was much anticipated. And the Gala Piano Recital in Sydney was well worth the wait. His intelligent and refined pianism was the ideal vehicle for sharing profound and for the most part late period expressions from Schumann, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach.

This programme was studded with sets of small-scale compositions from the final five years of Brahms’ life. This enabled us to experience his Opus 117, 118 and 119 in the same evening’s listening. Continue reading MUSICA VIVA GALA PIANO RECITAL: ANDRAS SCHIFF @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


Above: Dan Walker, whose work Yúya Karrabúra (Fire is Burning) was given a world premiere at this concert.                                                                                                                                                                               Featured image: Detail from concert programme cover design by

Just as the title for this final Sydney Chamber Choir concert of 2018 boldly calls out for our attention, the programme choices here were captivating and mostly modern in style and compositional date. Compiled by guest conductor Jonathan Grieves-Smith, the concert let us witness vivid works evoking nature, the sea, the outdoors and the spiritual or otherworldly environment.

This choir’s affinity for church and early musics delighted the crowd as well as  the group demonstrating a stunning aptitude for also performing new and contemporary choral works.

Nine of the concert’s eleven works were composed after 1977, and the evening was made particularly special by the performance of Dan Walker’s piece Yúya Karrabúra (Fire is Burning) in world premiere. Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR : BEHOLD-THE SEA! @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC


Borodin String Quartet members: Sergei Lomovsky (violin), Vladimir Balshin (cello), Ruben Aharonian (violin) and Igor Naidin (viola).

Borodin Quartet is a  breathtakingly capable and refined quartet instrument. It was a thrill to hear them again in Sydney towards the end of their national concert tour with Musica Viva.

As always, its polished voice delivered the expression of master composers with formidable restraint and precision from the combination of players Ruben Aharonian (violin), Sergei Lomovsky (violin), Igor Naidin (viola)and Vladimir Balshin (cello).

Perfect placement of musical gesture and great synergy of both  the architectural and passionate ambitions of the nineteenth century music were evident during the concert’s first half. Continue reading MUSICA VIVA PRESENTS BORODIN STRING QUARTET @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Above : Violinist Veronique Serret and pianist Clemens Leske performed Beethoven’s Spring Sonata. Featured image: Omega ensemble musicians played Farrenc and Elena Kats-Chernin. Photo Credit : David Vagg.

Omega Ensemble’s most recent concert, titled ‘Joy’ , was as usual an event  full of ensemble music to blissfully lose yourself in. It was full  of everything musical joy requires. The assembled musicians communicated the diverse works clearly, a range of colourful atmospheres were provided and the audience had the pleasure of hearing concert favourites as well as having the chance to discover newer or less frequently heard works.

This event began with a piano trio consisting of Veronique Serret (violin), Paul Stender (cello) and Clemens Leske (piano). Here the atmospheres and carefully combined colours in Schubert’s Notturno in E flat major D897 were finely shaped and the lyricism from all instruments was woven together well. It was a serene yet vivid offering with which to start.

The first half of the concert concluded with a joyous performance of Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in F major Op 24, ‘Spring’. As spring tries to assert itself in Sydney, this commanding interpretation was blooming with appropriate seasonal colour and warmth.

The dialogue and ensemble interaction between Serret and Leske was a pleasure to watch. The overall keen momentum maintained kept the work fresh and was led clearly by Veronique Serret as these players worked hard to jointly shape Beethoven’s unique dramatic gestures.

Sudden shifts in articulation and nuance were striking, in particular those led by Serret. Her realisation of the emotional and thematic architecture was exemplary here and was exchanged in suitable tone with Clemens Leske’s keyboard voice.

As well as exciting Beethoven-esque outbursts in the opening movement, the balance of melody and accompaniment lines in the second movement Adagio molto espressivo was one of the evening’s several solid listening highlights.

The chance to be exposed to less frequently heard chamber music works came via an elevated performance of Louise Farrenc’s Nonet for Strings and Winds in E flat major Op 38 (1850).

This sprawling work was given an airing by the musicians with Omega Ensemble’s signature bright clarity and a refined, elegant homogeneity to the group statements. Alternating solos across the line-up were boldly voiced and the blend of string and wind sonorities was clear and focussed throughout.

This concert reached a colourful conclusion with Elena Kats-Chernin’s Russian Rag. As the contrasting twentieth century work on the programme, it was heard in an arrangement especially written for the talents of a full Omega Ensemble.

Kats-Chernin’s music in the hands of these skilled ensemble players immediately communicated a quirky joy. This piece’s previous use as soundtrack music for Adam Eliot’s 2009 film Mary and Max would have resonated with familiar fun for quite a few listeners.

Via the infectiously lilting delight of Kats-Chernin’s uniquely recognisable musical brand, the assembled troupe of Veronique Serret (violin), Neil Thompson (viola), Paul Stender (cello), Alex Henery (double bass), Sally Walker (flute), Nicola Bell (oboe), David Rowden (clarinet), Todd Gibson-Cornish (bassoon), Michael Dixon (horn) and Clemens Leske (piano) shone once again with ensemble excellence.

The playing here had a very joyous, accessible and direct evocation of character, which was a consistent feature of this entire concert success.





Above : Guest Director for this concert, Daniel Pinteño, Baroque violinist. Featured image :  Daniel Pinteño with Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Photo credit – Steven Godbee

Who better to give Sydney  some previously unheard Baroque music from Spain in vivid premiere this spring than the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra? Their latest instalment in this year’s diverse set of concert formats is MEDITERRANEO. It is a joyous return to instrumental playing alone without stage production. Led and inspired by charismatic Spanish violinist Daniel Pinteño, the orchestra and soloist took us on a vibrant tour of Baroque music from the Mediterranean.

The rich fabric of the chosen programme exposes us to native composers and works from Spain alongside those of Italy and England. The result was striking and fresh as well as giving us the chance to discover also the sensitive and spectacular playing of skilled Baroque violinist Daniel Pinteño. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : ‘MEDITERRANEO’ WITH DANIEL PINTEÑO @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Ray Chen, Julien Quentin and composer Matthew Hindson rehearse ‘Dark Matter’.

At the conclusion of an extensive national tour and series of masterclass dates, popular violinist Ray Chen and pianist Julien Quentin still shone like quite an unparalleled pair of diamonds on the City Recital Hall stage.

Sydney Ray Chen fans were entertained with absolute fireworks in solo and other violin works from the early twentieth century and beyond. The chosen works could only have made their intended virtuosi dazzle the  audience at each premiere with stunning bravura and elevated musicianship. The world premiere Australian work by Matthew Hindson in this Musica Viva concert was given similar treatment, its intensity comprehensively explored with the fresh and exciting chamber music flair this pair also brought to the rest of the programme. Continue reading MUSICA VIVA : RAY CHEN & JULIEN QUENTIN @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Above: Piano soloist Tamara-anna Cislovska gave a stunning performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 2 with TMO.                                                                                                                                        Featured image: Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of TMO, Sarah-Grace Williams

The audience at the ABC Centre’s Eugene Goossens Hall were treated to an all-Russian programme from TMO for its Met Concert #4. Titled ‘Fever’, It presented works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by three giants of the Russian music scene . From the evening’s striking opening chord, it was clear that the Russian music would be celebrated with focussed energy, interpretative skill and frisson by the Australian artists.

Joining this busy Australian orchestra as soloist was pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska. Through her recording, broadcasting, editing and concert work , Tamara-Anna has proved herself over and over to be one of this country’s great musical humans. Who better to join the joyous musical souls of the large-format TMO to clearly  present the heat and diverse complexities of the programmed Russian music. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : MET CONCERT 4 @ THE ABC CENTRE