Above : Nevermind – Jean Rondeau, Anna Besson, Louis Creac’h and Robin Pharo

Nevermind is currently visiting Australia for the ensemble’s first time in a rigorous national tour with Musica Viva. This young, progressive and broadminded early music group continues its tradition of making historically informed performance practice attractive and accessible to all ages and concert experience amongst their audiences.

In this way the group is a natural fit for Musica Viva’s core values. As at any of its International Concert Season events, welcoming, informative programming adds to audience expectation that classics of a particular genre will be heard alongside rare or new works, and that ensemble performance will emerge as a vibrant, attractive and beautifully energetic entertainment option for modern

The sum of the four Nevermind member’s presence onstage  totals quite an awesome amount study, performance, recording and multifaceted crossover reputations. They supply clear presentation of music with historically informed performance values securely fuelling the engaging sound.

In super-casual clothing instead of concert attire, this is HIPster sleeves-rolled-up fare; it charms us with a skilful delivery of the requisite  intricacies of embellishment and communication of an exquisite eighteenth century groove.

High on the list of this French group’s attractive qualities is the freshness of their interaction. Each instrumentalist is in fine control of what their sound can contribute to the group texture.
Realisations of Baroque structure and gesture are deft and clear as these musicians swoop through dance music suites or quartet-sonatas.

Contrary to the somewhat dismissive or nonchalant English name for this group, also a Nirvana album title,  their playing draws us into the selected music history period with tremendous focus on creating a suitable sound world for both the newcomer to early music concerts or seasoned ticket holder alike to follow.

This first Sydney concert for these French visitors paid homage in its first half to French superstars and master composers Marin Marais and Louis Couperin. The spontaneity and ease of contrast with which Nevermind brought us the characters of established dance forms in nicely contrasted sequence made the large structures move along with a joyous momentum.

Within the structure of these works embellishment and shaping from musical crossover artists harpsichordist-jazz improvisor Jean Rondeau and gambist-dance collaborator and improvisor Robin Pharo enhanced the sonic tapestry.  Their contributions often included exquisite and sometimes fleeting twists of embellishment and phrasing with exciting impetus.

Above : Ensemble Nevermind performing at City Recital Hall.

After interval, the rigid conventions of the courtly dance suite were broken down with the exploration of Baroque music in a new and evolving structure. Works for four independent instruments, in the quartet-sonatas of Telemann and rarely performed French composers Quentin and Guillemain delighted the City Recital Hall crowd.

These last two works represent the research skill and fabulous discovery of Nevermind. They sat on the programme where Musica Viva’s commissioned or world premiere works usually do to give us something different and new to take away from each event.

In these works as in the entire programme, flauto traverso player Anna Bresson, an authority and exponent of historic Irish folk flute playing, continued to crown the textures with warm tone in these new works.

This flautist’s range of colours and  fresh lyricism produced to highlight the sonata structures was remarkable. Imitations during these newly discovered works were rendered in elegant, eloquent but never predictable conversation with violinist Louis Creac’h.

Tracing a more individually conceived line than mere bass doubling in these later works, gambist Robin Pharo demonstrated fantastic agility and clear projection of sound rather than veiled timbres from his gut-stringed instrument. He dazzled audience members with the beauty of eighteenth-century riffs in this passionate Baroque Band

Nevermind asks us to not mind stuffy convention or pure intellectualism and to realise that on a base level, quality music from any period, when authentically and capably reproduced, should easily attract us all. Concert convention  and the divide between early art music and the modern listener should be bridged by comfortably accessible performances of finely sculptured yet flexible sound.

Nevermind’s second Sydney concert for Musica Viva on October
26 is devoted to JS Bach and Telemann. It promises to delight and dazzle us once again.