The wonderful concert that brought the ACO’s 2019 season to a close was entitled BRAHMS/DVORAK with the ACO in glorious rich and finely nuanced form under the leadership of Tognetti whose conducting was precise , vigorous and yet extremely expressive as well .
Andrew Ford’s ‘Fanfare for Neverland’ ( a world premiere) for solo trumpet as played by Visa Haarala up in the top gallery was a bright yet lyrical piece , with the trumpet slithering , skittering and sliding .
The Australian premiere of Andrew Norman’s Grand Turismo followed , using eight virtuoso violinists .It is a flurried , circular conversation between them , at times sharp and spiky then suddenly contrasted with soft lyrical segments and tiny pauses of stillness. The emphatic animated ensemble music has ominous pulsating under rhythms.
Brahms ‘Concerto for violin and cello in A Minor ‘(Double Concerto) made up the bulk of the first half , with the ACO enlarged to the size of a full symphony orchestra , a treat featuring Tognetti on violin and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello in an extraordinary partnership, Helena Rathbone beating time when Tognetti was playing . The entire work crackled with tension.
The first movement began stridently Valve on cello passionately , elegantly ‘singing’ then becoming fiery. lighter flowing sections were contrasted with scurrying orchestral swells .A duet between Tognetti and Valve was hovering lyrical and humming. It was then Tognetti’s turn to ‘ sing’ on the violin in an eloquent , heartbroken fragile solo with the Orchestra dynamically accompanying. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BRAHMS AND DVORAK @ CITY RECITAL HALL→
A magnificent , many layered concert that had this reviewer in raptures at times .It was also full of contrasting but associated sounds .At times aspiring to be futuristic it is also a glorious celebration of Bach ( and Dean’s ) music. Richard Tognetti, Erin Helyard, Brett Dean and ACO Principal Cello, Timo-Veikko Valve are all featured .
The stage as the audience enters is set with a delicate candle, harpsichord and organ.
The concert opens with Tognetti’s spellbinding performance of BACH’s Sonata No.2 in A minor for solo violin, BWV1003: III. Andante that was haunting and compelling , powerful and hypnotic.
Bachs Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord No.2 in A major, BWV1015 15 I. Dolce II. Allegro III. Andante un poco IV. Presto followed .The work is a trio sonata , the first movement soaring and flowing with delicate celestial music played by Helyard on the organ , Tognetti on violin which changed to a discussion between the two. The second movement was brisk , crisp and precise with Helyard on harpsichord and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello .The third movement , circular and floating, – with Helyard with one hand on the chamber organ , the other on the harpsichord , all three performers exchanging thoughts .Tognetti led the discussion though , like a showy tenor . The final movement ( Helyard back on harpsichord) had an explosive opening and was bustling and thrumming to the dynamic conclusion.
The trio were joined by violist Atte Kilpeläinen for segments from Bach’s Three-Part Inventions, or Sinfonias, for keyboard interspersed with Gyorgy Kurtag Signs, Games and Messages: Hommage à J.S.B. 2 .The atmosphere of the single candle light ( with the glowing screens of the performer’s tablets) was drastically changed with the use of a vertical flaring fluorescent light, that identified the Kurtag sections .There was also a piece by Marin Marais’ – Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève, given a most vivacious , robust performance with rather boisterous cello . The music ranged from swooping and swirling , bubbling and circling , to infectious dance rhythms, fiery, sharp percussive segments all leading to the cascading , rippling yearning achingly eloquent conclusion , Bach’s Chorale Prelude “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ”, BWV639 3.
Very atmospheric , Brett Dean’s Approach (Prelude to a Canon) was first after interval , its Australian premiere , a commission by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra , with Atte Kilpeläinen leading , Hellyard on harpsichord and cellists Valve, Julian Thompson and Melissa Barnard, and Maxime Bibeau on bass .At times it was sharp and spiky , trembling and oscillating , other times scampering , building to a crescendo then a softer , quieter end , lead by Dean and Kilpeläinen , the others quivering underneath.
The final work was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B-flat major, BWV1051 14 I. [Allegro] II. Adagio ma non tanto III. Allegro notable for the major viola parts and absence of violins.
The first movement was crisp, cold and very precise almost like intergalactic sounds beamed from a satellite disc.The second movement was tender , lyrical and eager with Helyard moving between organ and harpsichord , Kilpeläinen and Dean interlacing their melodies.The final movement was sprightly almost dancelike in its melody, with fast and furious violas , the cellos and double basses far more restrained.
While perhaps there were few performers on stage , this was an intrepid , gargantuan performance.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s INTIMATE BACH tours nationally 19-30 October 2019
Running time two hours including interval
A glorious concert with magnificent performance by the ACO , led by Richard Tognetti and Croatian -born soloist Dejan Lazic on piano , focusing on music mostly by Mozart and showcasing the ACO’s great strengths as well as exploring the “Sturm und Drang” style . The Orchestra and Lazic had a great rapport.
HAYDN ‘s Symphony No.39 in G minor ‘Tempesta di mare’ began the concert The first movement with its brisk strings and robust circular melody that was looped and repeated and listen out for the horns featured. The second movement was an elegant lilting dance like movement while the third movement with its horns and woodwind was a cascading wall of pulsating sound .The fourth and final movement was scurrying with its flurried , impatient strings. Throughout the work there were contrasts in mood and at times quite sharp , spiky rhythms that made the work sounds very fresh and contemporary.
The individual elements in this landmark production are tremendous but I found the performance dark , somewhat disturbing and perhaps a bit fragmented and disjointed ( which , I understand , is at least partly what the ACO intended ).
LUMINOUS is a haunting collaboration between the ACO and controversial photographer Bill Henson. It is a revival of this work , with brand new imagery, updated repertoire and guest vocals from indie Israeli-Australian singer-songwriter Lior.
Henson’s photos, often first seen in extremely close grainy close up , blur the boundaries between gender , adulthood and youth , night and day, rural and urban .There are extraordinary lonely graffitied landscapes with windy trees and the models in the Caravaggio – like images quite frequently appear world weary and bruised . The camera work , panning in extreme close up then pulling away to reveal the full photo creates totally different images at times, red dots revealed to be a leaf or hair for example, making this reviewer think of sunspots and other planets perhaps. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : LUMINOUS @ CITY RECITAL HALL→
A most glorious concert full of superb playing by the ACO under the guest leadership of Lorenza Borrani who was very stylish in elegant black culottes.
What was interesting to note is that all three works were not originally written for a string orchestra.
First we heard PROKOFIEV’s Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, arranged for violin and strings by Borrani. It was given a powerful, passionate performance. The cellos and basses generally took the piano parts, with the violas acting as the middle of the keyboard, the violins on top.
The first movement opened sombrely and sorrowfully and featured an eloquent, almost heartbreaking solo by Borrani. The cellos and double bass rumbled in agreement with Borrani’s anguished statement, the violins then joined the discussion. The music became shimmering and floating yet sharp and spiky. This then changed to a somewhat lighter mood and melody that swirled and pulsated.
The second movement had a very energetic opening by the cellos and double bass, with a rather ominous march like tempo.
Borrani was fiery and defiant with sharp, spiky flurries. An angry discussion developed between the two sections of the Orchestra with Borrani attempting to be a peacemaker. A relentless driven rhythm took us to the dramatic ending. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN AND PROKOFIEV→
ACO GRINGOLTS PLAYS PAGANINI
CITY RECITAL HALL OCTOBER 2018
The ACO under guest director and soloist Ilya Gringolts was in fine , inspired form giving a rich and varied performance . There was intense joyous rapport between Gringolts and the Orchestra , and the Orchestra obviously enjoyed performing . Gringolts made his name 20 years ago as the youngest ever winner of the Premio Paganini Prize and has dazzled and delighted orchestras and audiences ever since with his astonishing virtuoso playing. For this program he was not only featured soloist but guest director as well.
For the first half of the concert bearded and darkly handsome Gringolts wore a white shirt with what looked to be a colourful Aboriginal design in panels down the front. For the second half he was in traditional concert black.
First we heard CPE Bach’s String Symphony in C major , full of precise elegance, drama and contrasting complicated dynamics.The first movement had a very busy, swirling opening and was full or repeated circular rhythms .
The second movement was a soft piercingly exquisite lament, Gringolts on violin leading like a lyrical tenor , the Orchestra accompanying. The elegant third movement was full of interwoven convoluted scurrying and rich fluidly floating segments, tumbling towards the conclusion. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra : Ilya Gringolts Plays Paganini→
GOLDBERG VARIATIONS from the Australian Chamber Orchestra under the dynamic direction of Richard Tognetti gave a thrilling performance.
The first half of this luscious concert was off to a breathlessly fast start with Stravinsky’sThree Pieces for String Quartet , spiky and emphatic with hints of his Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). The melody bubbles and flows around the Orchestra but this is contrasted with a rich, stickily languid and melancholic section full of yearning.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s STEVEN ISSERLIS PLAYS SHOSTAKOVICH would have to be one of the most mesmerising and intense concerts by the ACO in a long while. Under Tognetti’s stylish leadership the Orchestra was in magnificent form , and the Cello Concerto No.1 in E-flat major by Shostakovich as played by guest artist their old friend Steven Isserlis was absolutely amazing .
First we heard the world premiere Samuel AdamsMovements (for us and them) which featured fast furious dazzling playing in the first Movement. The second movement was pulsating and slower. Tognetti stated the melody the Orchestra embroidered upon that with some sharp spiky comments. The third movement was shimmering and whirling with unusual use of the cellos and the main melody theme held and ‘sung’ like an extra long breath .The last tumbling insistent movement made me think of darting fish underwater. The work included slow chromatic ascents and sections where the strings were rather fractured and yet interwoven. Continue reading ACO MESMERISES WITH ‘STEVEN ISSERLIS PLAYS SHOSTAKOVICH’→
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. Continue reading DEATH AND THE MAIDEN→
ACO: TOGNETTI TCHAIKOVSKY BRAHMS
This is a vibrant , electrifying concert that was superbly played and had the packed audience bursting with enthusiasm. The work of two masters was paired with that of two female composers born in 1980 and included an Australian and a world premiere.There was a rich lustrous sound throughout. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: TOGNETTI TCHAIKOVSKY BRAHMS→
The Australian Chamber Orchestra are renowned the world over for their adventurous and distinctive programming, that sees re-imagined interpretations of celebrated classics stacked alongside performances of ambitious new commissions. They begin 2018 with Three Soloists, Two Premieres and a Collaboration with the Australian National Academy of Music.Continue reading ACO OPENS 2018 WITH TOGNETTI, TCHAIKOVSKY & BRAHMS→
This was an absolutely ravishing, exquisite concert and a feast for the senses.
Fourteen years after his Australian debut with the ACO, one of Richard Tognetti’s great musical friends is back with his special 14K solid gold flute. Guest soloist Emmanuel Pahud currently divides his time between his Principal Flute position at the Berlin Philharmonic and touring the world as a soloist.
Through the concert there was a great rapport between Tognetti, Pahud and the Orchestra.
We first heard CPE Bach’s Sonata for Flute in A minor in three movements. The first movement was slow and languid, the second intricate, bright and bubbling with the flute darting and fluttering. In the third movement the flute was even more birdlike in parts; teasing , scampering and swooping. Pahud’s playing was dazzling and effortless with creamy, expressive, beguiling legato. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud→
This was a stirring, passionate concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in fine, elegant form.
Under the baton of guest director and violin soloist Henning Kraggerud, the concert celebrated the music of Norway’s best known composer. It was multi layered and displayed a great range. There was fine ensemble playing and some very exiting mini solos.
Special guest of the Orchestra, Henning Kraggerud, Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra , is renowned for his interpretation of Grieg and his extraordinary creative versatility, with a career that his seen him playing many different roles from being an Artistic Director to composer, performer, arranger and even and improviser. He spends much of his time touring the world as a concert soloist and has written over 200 compositions.
This event, a collaboration between the ACO and Jennifer Peeedom , will leave you overawed and breathless at the savage beauty of nature and music. It is in a similar vein to the ACO’s 2012 multimedia project The Reef it is full of stunning visuals (the film is directed by Peeedom with Renan Ozturk as principal photographer) and also features bravura playing by the ACO in dazzling form as led by Tognetti, who has some dramatic , shimmering and fiery solos.
The work is an epic exploration of the often fraught relationship between humans and mountains which really began with the Romantics. The film is narrated by Willem Dafoe, with text written by Robert Macfarlane – whose book Mountains of the Mind inspired Peedom’s approach to this project.
The film itself is a poetic rumination on humans’ relationship with mountains and explores the nature of our modern fascination with mountains – WHY are we so captivated by them? but there is little detail conveyed in the narration – Although some of the issues explored in Peedom’s 2014 film Sherpa are briefly mentioned – instead , Dafoe asserts broad ideas for which the film provides breathtaking images. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : ‘MOUNTAIN’ @ THE CITY RECITAL HALL→
Intimate Mozart indeed. This was a ravishing concert full of superb playing.
The concert was a small scale recital, the ACO being represented by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti and three featured principals: second violinist Helena Rathbone, cellist Timo-Veikko Valve, and guest viola player Florian Peelman.
This very exciting concert blended world premieres and nineteenth century Romanticism in a program of six relatively short works.
The program featured performances by three soloists – violinists Satu Vanska and Glenn Christensen and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve.
Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Andante (for her 1931 String Quartet) opened the concert. It began slowly almost eerily with sharp, spiky, dissonant, shimmering strings. The piece was intense and atmospheric and filled with moments of calm and jarring disharmony. The ACO’s renowned precision for detail was on show in terms of phrasing, articulation and the ability to keep body movement to a minimum.
Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor for two violins and cello with a glittering, crisp and precise performance displayed the ACO’s ability to be vigorous and exact, particularly in the opening movement. After a soft, rather tentative and slow start, the piece turned into something quite tempestuous, though one section sounded like delicate raindrops. Continue reading ACO SOLOISTS TAKE CENTRE STAGE @ CITY RECITAL HALL→
This was not your standard Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) concert, but as always it featured absolutely superb playing by the ACO who were in inspired form and dynamically led by the charismatic, bouncing, at times close to dancing guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who has taken the place of Richard Tognetti, who is currently in residence at the Barbican in London. (The ACO will play at the Barbican next month).
The concert was divided into two halves,as befits the concert’s title. There was a fascinating blend and contrast of blues grass folk songs sung and played on guitar and banjo by guest artist Sam Amidon, with a turbulent, passionate Janacek piece (his first string quartet, The Kreutzer Sonata, as well as a dazzling version of a John Adams work entitled, Shaker Loops (1947) .
In the first half, Murder, the turbulent , at times quite spiky Janacek piece was magnificently played by the ACO. The wprk was inspired by the Tolstoy novella of the same name. At one time there was a stormy argument between sections of the orchestra tensely, breathlessly played, and this was contrasted with more melancholic and reflective sections .
Amidon’s folk songs, played in both halves, appeared at first to be simple tunes but then proved to be more complex. In the first half, in the work Way Go Lily, there were rippling flowing rhythms. How Come That Blood featured a fluid, clip clop almost galloping rhythm – Amidon on banjo , the orchestra accompanying him, and there was an interesting use of pizzicato.
For the first half the songs were arranged by Nico Muhly. Amidon’s rough hewn, sincere vocal style gave his retelling of these folk songs a powerful punch. Amidon’s raw playing contrasted with the more refined tomes of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
The Redemption set opening the second half was a selection of songs performed by Amidon and Kuusisto alone, in a delightfully intimate yet casual and relaxed manner. This contrasted with, and allowed some relief, from the darker subject matter of the program’s first half.
Kuusisto treated his violin more like a folk fiddler, and occasionally joined his voice to Amidon’s in a delightful performance that also included a showy violin solo.
This half also featured an acapella like, haunting and powerful version of Brackett’s Simple Gifts, (the most famous hymn of the Shaker sect) as sung by Amidon.
John Adams work Shaker Loops was rich and multi layered and featured an aching ‘centre’. At times, the piece evoked the ‘music of the spheres’, shimmering and delicate, at other the playing was strident, with bubbling violins and cellos rumbling underneath.
This was a dazzling concert with a running time of two hours and ten minutes.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s toured the concert MURDER AND REDEMPTION nationally between the 2nd and 14th February.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra in Murder and Redemption was on national tour February 2 -14
Featured pic – Lorenza Borrani. Pic by Edwina Pickles.
Under the excellent direction of guest director and violinist Lorenza Borrani, who clearly had a great rapport with the Orchestra, we were treated to a superb performance by the ACO.
The SCHNITTKE Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra was a striking, most unusual work in four movements that made us sit up and prick our ears.
The opening was questioning, sharp, spiky and emphatic. The second Allegretto movement was dance-like in atmosphere. The orchestral ensemble was very focused and driven. There was a use of pizzicatto. Sometimes the music felt like the whirling and turning of the spheres. The third movement was emphatic with ominous deep double bass. Borrani was amazing in her solos, fiery and hypnotic yet tender and liquid as well.
This was another glorious concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Under the charismatic, dynamic leadership of Richard Tognetti the ACO was in magnificent form. There was wonderful ensemble playing providing a lush, warm tone combined with marvellous phrasing. Tognetti’s playing was simply dazzling and hypnotic.
The latest magnificent concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra was stirring and tempestuous at times and threatened to lift the roof off the City Recital Hall with its rendition of Brahms colossal Third Symphony after interval.
Tognetti was vibrant and emphatic in his conducting, jumping between the conductor’s podium and solo violin, using both the long violin bow and his long, delicate, powerful hands.
Under the umbrella title A FRENCH CELEBRATION the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in their latest marvelous concert brings to us a delicate, nuanced feast of super music by mostly French composers Franck, Respighi and Ravel with international guest artists- mezzo soprano Susan Graham, Karen Gomyo on violin, and Christian Ihle Hadland on piano.
The first half of the concert consisted of two Ravel works, beginning with the ravishing Piano trio in A minor, featuring the glorious talents of Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland. His playing in the first movement was shimmering passionate and intense, soulful and crystal like.
The second movement had a jumpy spiky opening, perhaps a possible jazz influence, with rumbles on the piano. It then become languid and passionate and developed into a flurried conversation between the piano and string trio. The third movement had a breathy, dreamlike opening- Hadland swaying, intensely caught up in the music- then a glorious cello solo, eventually joined by the violin and piano.
The piano makes a melancholy statement, eventually all four musician restate the melody and the music became sadder and more delicate, deep piano rumbles bringing the movement to a close. The final fast, flowing movement begins with birdlike ripples dominated by the piano. There is a tumultuous whirling trio that takes us to the thrilling, exhilarating ending.
The second Ravel work (Trois Poemes de Stephan Mallarme) featured mezzo soprano Susan Graham. Graham was tall, statuesque in grey and silver, and she gave a glorious, refined performance. She was warm and luminous and in fabulous voice with creamy legato. Listening closely to this piece one picked up hints of Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe’ and ‘Scherahazade’.
‘Soupir’(Sigh) was delicate and lyrical. ‘Placet futile‘ (Futile petition) was spiky, delicate and passionate. The orchestra breathed and played as one. Graham was simply magnificent.
‘Surgi de la croupe et du bond (Surging up from the rounded flank and leap) began with swirling, surging strings. The piece was dreamy, lush and languid, Graham’s voice soaring effortlessly.
After interval was the Respighi ‘’Il Tramonto’ (The Sunset, an Italian translation of Shelley’s poem), again featuring Graham, who was radiant and powerful, with splendid rich tones in the telling of this sad story. It was far darker and more operatic than the Ravel, with tremulous violins bringing it to a conclusion.
The Franck Piano Quintet in F Minor with Hadland positively beaming from the shiny black piano began with a superb solo by Hadland full of elegant, refined playing- fiery, spiky and intense then calming to a dialogue between piano and the four companions.
The second movement was far more lyrical and delicate- fragile, languid and dreamy. Cascading ripples on the piano were answered by sharp, decisive strings. Hadland dropped jewelled music into the air in an intense , hypnotic performance.
The third, final movement was very fast and intense– a dynamic discussion between piano and strings with frenzied violin playing and swirling tumultuous confrontations. There was notably intense concentration by all the players In a magnificent performance that brought this glorious concert to an end and thrilled applause. Bravo!
Running time 2 hours (approx.) including interval.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s concert A FRENCH CELEBRATION played the City Recital Hall between the 14th and 18th July.
The ACO is next taking this concert to the Melbourne Melbourne Recital Centre on the 20th July, the Adelaide Town Hall on Tuesday 21st July and Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday 22nd July.
This incredible concert had the ecstatic audience cheering at the end. Led by Satu Vanska and with amazing guest artist Stefan Jackiw the ACO was in glorious, inspired form .
First was the enchanting Mendelssohn String Symphony No. 9 in C Minor , ‘La Suisse’ . The first movement opened sharply then became brighter and faster with flourishes of the repeated dance like melody. The second movement was divine, heartbreaking and lyrical. It had a semi Baroque feel as well as similarities to Mendelssohn’s ‘ Midsummer Night’s Dream’ music and included glorious cello sections. It was ravishing, full of exquisite beauty. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra: Mostly Mendelssohn @ Sydney City Recital Hall→
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