Music

QUICKIE GIVEAWAY TO ‘MAGICAL MUSICAL JOURNEYS IN A BOHO BAR’

Some Of Two Parts is Mark Isaacs on piano and  Loretta Palmeiro with soprano saxophone  and on Sunday they will thrill with  MAGICAL MUSICAL JOURNEYS IN A BOHO BAR.

Built on a jazz-meets-contemporary-classical bedrock and with folkloric elements, Two Parts mimic and play, complement and contradict, create and evolve in real-time composition. Musical qualities of the Iberian Peninsula such as flamenco and fado are also visited. What results can be brash, delicate, passionate or furious. But this is just the beginning… Continue reading QUICKIE GIVEAWAY TO ‘MAGICAL MUSICAL JOURNEYS IN A BOHO BAR’

MUSICA VIVA PRESENTS BENEDETTI ELSCHENBROICH GRYNYUK TRIO

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
works.

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.

 

MOMENTUM : THE OMEGA ENSEMBLE IN CONCERT @ CITY RECITAL HALL

A most exciting and captivating concert showcasing some ravishing, passionate playing. There was intense rapport between the Ensemble who concentrated intensely and were in fine form.

First we heard Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 87 . Violinist Anna Da Silva Chen led the quintet which was violinist Arena Nakamura, violists Amanda Verner and Neil Thompson, and cellist Howard Penny, guesting courtesy of the Australian National Academy of Music.

The first movement opened briskly and skittishly with scurries and flurries , becoming slightly slower and more sedate before jumping back to the brisk tone. The dynamic second movement was full of circular whirling interlocking melodies, with slinky slipping and sliding strings .The third movement was poignant, sombre and richly layered , wish some spiky sections contrasted with passionately explosive quiveringly anxious ones. The pulsating final movement was driven and relentless with brisk flurries .Each of the quintet had their own individual ‘voice’ but were a magnificently unified whole taking us to the tornado like conclusion.

David Bruce’s Gumboots was delightful and featured clarinettist Georgina Oakes. Celebrating “the rejuvenating power of dance , Bruce, in his program note, insists that the work is not ‘about’ the gumboot dancers of South Africa – the dance tradition, rooted in the horrendous conditions imposed upon black gold miners – but it is definitely inspired by them. It was in two contrasting halves, the first pulsating , rich limpid and fluid, the strings shimmering and throbbing in accompaniment, the second a series of five vibrant, fast bubbly dances full of emphatic, infectious rhythms as if scattering puddles while splashing in the rain .There was a bluesy/jazz feel and hints of Gershwin. For the first half Oakes used a bass clarinet at times .

After interval we heard a passionate heartfelt performance of Schubert ‘s String Quintet in C major, D. 956, the “Cello Quintet” in a fine, focused performance. Chen, Nakamura, Thompson and Penny were joined by Paul Stender who added his rich tones to the combination.The throbbing first movement was richly lyrical yet also emphatic and had a somewhat angry atmosphere, yet it ended in earnest, thoughtful discussion. The compelling second movement was slower lyrical and more reflective. It was turbulent and achingly Romantic – a heated yet courteous group discussion that built in ominous intensity. The third movement had a spiky dynamic beginning , the main melody line stated taken and embroidered upon. There was a buoyant start to the fourth movement, led by Chen, some of which was Hungarian inspired. It included scurrying and flourishes and leading to the conclusion it was almost as if the quintet were tripping over themselves .

A most bewitching performance.

Running time approx. 2 hours 20 minutes including interval
The Omega Ensemble in Momentum played at the City Recital Hall on 13 November 2018.

https://www.omegaensemble.com.au/events/momentum

For more about Omega Ensemble : Momentum, visit {Website:10}

DIVAS ON DEMAND : BOHEME A PIACERE @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

 

Divas on Demand presented a most exciting production that reimagined the classic story of La Boheme. Under the deft direction of Nathan Gilkes, the Boheme Musetta and Rodolfo are blended with their future selves remembering the past and celebrating the life changing, at times, devastating power of love.

It becomes an immersive event with the audience is led through various spaces of the Independent Theatre – eg the main lobby , the foyer, outside, the cast using the fire escape staircase etc.

Musical director and arranger Wendy Dixon on electronic keyboard has created an excellent score mostly using the main ‘set pieces’ of the much loved opera as but also incorporating for instance The Andrews Sisters hits and also including guitar (Grant Sambells).Also, in another twist, Marcello here becomes Marcella. Continue reading DIVAS ON DEMAND : BOHEME A PIACERE @ INDEPENDENT THEATRE

BILL MURRAY, JAN VOGLER & FRIENDS : NEW WORLDS

 

Vanessa Perez, Jan Vogler, Bill Murray, Mira Wang. Pic Ben Apfelbaum

Bill Murray opened his Sydney Opera House show by reading from the last interview Ernest Hemingway granted. “Hemingway: I used to play cello. My mother kept me out of school a whole year to study music and counterpoint. She thought I had ability, but I was absolutely without talent.”

Murray could well be warning us that he is without talent as a singer but that he believes in himself, or perhaps his mother believed in him, and he enjoys singing, and his acting skills allow him to convey the story and emotions of the songs he chooses. He is accompanied by an exquisite world class, classical trio which would be a joy to listen to on their own but they are absolutely enthralling as they blend with Murray’s performance.  The trio is made up of cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez. They have performed as soloists for world renowned orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Bill Murray recites, reads, sings, and dances his way through a variety of works. After opening with George Plimpton’s interview from The Paris Review with Ernest Hemingway he read an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road: “Let us go! whoever you are come travel with me! Travelling with me you find what never tires.” This was followed by nature lover James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer, fittingly coupled with the music of another nature lover, Franz Schubert. Continue reading BILL MURRAY, JAN VOGLER & FRIENDS : NEW WORLDS

HELEN SUNG AND SYDNEY WOMEN’S JAZZ COLLECTIVE

The Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival kicked off at the fabulous Foundry 616 in Harris St, Ultimo with a great set from the Sydney Women’s Jazz Collective  before they were joined by the outstanding American pianist Helen Sung.

I thought that the Sydney Women’s Jazz Collective was playing at a level above their normal entertaining selves.  Opening with a lyrical folk song allowed Louise Horwood on trumpet to display her impressive skills. This was followed by Berlin based Silke Eberhardt’s composition Max Bialystock, featuring Alex Silver on trombone, Kali Gillan on baritone sax and Ali Foster on drums. Ali was especially impressive.   Of course, any reference to Mel Brooks’ The Producers should bring a smile to the audience.

A Paul Cutlan song, Knock on Effect, opened with some staccato guitar work before the horn section took it away in a different direction. The collective came into its own with Freyja Garbett’s Bulga. Opening with a blasting wall of horns the band toned it down with a smooth interlude before raising the tempo with a Laura Corney soaring sax solo and then taking it down again with some very mellow piano. Freyja switched from piano to some quirky synthesiser to complete a complex and diverse number.

Loretta Palmeiro’s tenor sax was the highlight of Lift, a song that also featured some mellow piano and Hannah James’ punchy double bass.

Saltwater, a brand new piece by Harri Harding was premiered at this opening night of the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival. Harri was there to introduce and conduct the piece. Initially this was to be a piece about loss, reflecting experiences that recently occurred in Harri’s life. Harri was pleased that the composition’s aesthetic turned out to be hopeful, which he felt was much more satisfying. It was a special treat to experience the richly varied composition with its sounds evoking birds and water.

The second set featured American pianist and composer Helen Sung. Helen explained she has had an eclectic music career and originally started in classical music. She told us how the Californian North Coast Brewing Company commissioned her to write a theme song for their Belgian style beer. Belgian beers were originally made by Trappist monks but as America had its own monk and the brewmaster was a jazz fan she composed Brother Thelonious. Helen then played Diego Rivera’s arrangement of Brother Thelonious with some very Monk like bass and heavy piano.

This was followed by a Thelonious Monk song, Oska T. Helen introduced the song by explaining that Monk’s music is geometric, that is it goes in all directions. This was a soaring version that got the audience moving in their chairs. Helen made the piano talk and the horns put on their A game, with Ellen Kirkwood outstanding on trumpet.

From her latest album, Sung with Words, she performed Convergence. As the notes, rhythms and harmonies collided in a manic high energy piece it stylishly lived up to its name. Sung’s performance of Monk’s Reflections was a sublimely beautiful rendition with the impressive Loretta Palmeiro featuring on saxophone. Next up was a highly energetic and creative rendition of Duke Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing. Helen Sung’s clever blending of the classical jazz and the discordant avant-garde was an exciting way of looking at this well known song. Her encore went even further back into the history of jazz to ragtime and Carolina Shout by James P Johnson. Her virtuosity as a pianist was celebrated by the audience with rapturous applause.

Helen Sung is a special talent and is highly recommended.

Helen Sung was at Foundry 616 on Wednesday 7th November.  She returns on Friday 9th November.

The Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival runs until 17th November.

 

MOMENTUM: SCHUBERT AND MENDELSSOHN. NEXT FROM OMEGA ENSEMBLE. GIVEAWAY

This image: Omega Ensemble                                                                                                                                      Featured image: Guest cellist Howard Penny (Image Credit: Keith Saunders)

MOMENTUM: SCHUBERT AND MENDELSSOHN.  Omega Ensemble is bringing three revolutionary quintets for their next concert.

Guest cellist Howard Penny joins Omega Ensemble in a performance of Schubert’s ultimate String Quintet in C major. Scored unusually for two violins, viola and two cellos, and completed during the final weeks of Schubert’s life, the ‘Cello Quintet’ ranks among the composer’s greatest accomplishments. Continue reading MOMENTUM: SCHUBERT AND MENDELSSOHN. NEXT FROM OMEGA ENSEMBLE. GIVEAWAY

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA :  LIXSANIA AND THE LABYRINTH

 

guest soloist Lixsania Fernandez

This was a glorious concert in which the ABO under the enthusiastic, energetic and precise direction of Paul Dyer glowed and were in tremendous form.

The concert was terrifically staged with most effective lighting , opening with guest star Lixsania Fernandez appearing solo in the spotlight then as the music required quietly joined by the various members of the ABO who had been waiting behind red lit screens. Tall , charismatic and model thin, striking, rather feline Fernandez hails from Cuba with reddish/purple hair . She wore several different elegant outfits during the concert. There was obviously profound rapport between Fernandez and the ABO and great enjoyment .

First we heard Folia Pasticcio by Corelli, Scarlatti and Marais which sounded as fresh as if it had been written yesterday. The music eddied and swirled .Fernandez on her viola da Gamba had a luminous , passionate solo and at one point Dyer on harpsichord had a rippling, delicate solo.

The ‘labyrinth’ of the title was the fiendishly difficult Pietro Locatelli’s 12th Violin Concerto in 3 movements from his Opus 3 set: Il Laberinto Armonico or The Harmonic Labyrinth. The composer described it on the score as “easy to get into, difficult to get out of” and Brandenburg’s Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen dazzled, channelling his inner Paganini and giving an astonishing bravura performance in the almost impossibly demanding Capriccios.

The opening movement began with bright and sunny violins. Lee -Chen’s solo shimmered and pulsated breathlessly, showing cultivated double -stopping as he risked the required break neck speed and dealt with the tricky arpeggios. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA :  LIXSANIA AND THE LABYRINTH

FRANCES MADDEN SOULFULLY WOWS AT FOUNDRY616

Foundry616 has been named in the Top 200 Jazz Clubs in the World by DownBeat Magazine and it doesn’t take much time there to see why.  Cosy and intimate, one can enjoy jazz as it was meant to be and the audio mix the night I went to see Frances Madden’s PRACTICAL MAGIC was brilliant.

This is such a lovely blended show.  It gives the listener a feel for the virtuosity of Madden and her band with a playlist that blends old tunes with more modern rhythms, jazz standards to enjoy with familiarity and some superbly written original work which showcases Madden’s feel for the poetry and impact of a lyric.  All delivered with technical excellence and emotive, personal execution. Continue reading FRANCES MADDEN SOULFULLY WOWS AT FOUNDRY616

COMMUNITY MUSIC PROJECT – CELEBRATING ITS FIRST YEAR

Sunday Lounge Sessions are a fun and relaxed opportunity to play, enjoy and socialise with other music lovers.

The Community Music Project (CMP) brings together music , musicians and audiences in a relaxed environment which encourages musicians and singers to share their passion for music with others. The CMP’s vision is to create a movement of community music sharing and unlock the collective talents of musicians and singers across Australia.

At their Sunday Lounge Sessions, you will get a chance to perform in a relaxed and informal environment. It’s also a great opportunity to meet and listen to other like-minded musicians perform from your local area.  There’s no cost involved for these uniquely creative events.

CMP welcomes you to their end of year celebration.  See all the information for attending an event or being a host at Community Music Project.  [Facebook]

AURA GO PIANO RECITAL : UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

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