DEATH AND THE MAIDEN from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, as led by guest artist Alina Ibragimova (pictured above) , who rejoined them after a gap of a decade , was in glorious form and Ibragimova was sensational . The theme of the program was death and some various major composers response to it. Ibragimova’s assured , passionate direction and her rapport with the Orchestra made this a most memorable performance.
The program opened with a strident, emphatic performance of Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C Minor which eventually led to a pulsating violin and became an energetic discussion between the various sections of the Orchestra .
The Barber Adagio for Strings – long time Sydney Dance company followers will immediately think of the Reading Room from Graeme Murphy’s iconic Some Rooms – began slowly and was incredibly refines then became passionate soaring and melancholy as it turbulently floated.
Hartmann’s Concerto Funebre is in four movements . It was composed as a response to the nightmares of Nazism in World War 11 and revised in 1959 .The Largo introduction featured a dazzling vibrant performance by Ibragimova , as fresh as if it was written yesterday . Meanwhile the Orchestra is insistent , fiery and grumbles while Ibragimova lyrically makes her violin soar and sing .The second movement (Adagio ) is also fiery with Stravinsky like pulsating , relentless rhythms .
There is a tumultuous discussion between soloist and Orchestra and Ibragiova on her violin for some of it darts and sizzles and she also has a blistering fiery solo contrasted with hushed tenderness and piercing ,passionate melancholic lyricism . The third movement (Allegro di molto) pulsated and throbbed with a yearning intensity while the final movement ( Choral : Langsamer Marsch) took us to interval with crashing , discordant chords.
Arvo Part’s Silouan’s Song was reflective , intense and hypnotic with quivering pauses adding a religious atmosphere to the performance.
After interval came a very dramatic performance of the Schubert (arr. strings) String Quartet in D minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ arranged by Tognetti (who was absent as was Satu Vanska and Maxime Bibeau) . The first movement (Allegro) was full of galloping intensity , at times almost dancelike and full or yearning , whirling circular rhythms leading to scurrying darting shimmering strings that eventually become slower and softer.
The second movement (Adante con Moto ) pulsated ebbed and flowed . Ibragimova had a dazzling solo and a delicate duet with Helena Rathbone. The Orchestra became fiery and explosive but changed to soft, humming , quivering violas. The third movement ( Scherzo – Allegro molto) was wild and furious , whirling and scurrying in a circular melody. The Presto was electrifying with the proud defiant and windswept entrance of Death . There is a sudden change to a different them as Death stalks and then fast vehement scurries of the Orchestra lead to the conclusion , leaving us exhausted but exultant.
Ibragimova’s assured passionate lead and her rapport with the Orchestra made this a most memorable performance.
MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C minor
BARBER Adagio for Strings
HARTMANN Concerto funebre
ARVO PÄRT Silouan’s Song
SCHUBERT (arr. strings) String Quartet in D minor
‘Death and the Maiden’