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

Australian Chamber Orchestra : Ilya Gringolts Plays Paganini


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


This particular concert by the ACO, as curated by cellist Timo-Veikko Valve,  with various arrangements for a string septet , developed themes expressing desire and aching loss spanning centuries .

The first half began with DOWLAND’s exquisite ,refined and flowing Lachrimæ Antiquæ a variation on his much loved  Lachrymae pavane. It was pure but cold with intensely woven harmonies .

WAGNER’s (arr. Sebastian Gürtler) romantic, swirling, passionate Prelude to Tristan und Isolde came next with its lush multilayered opening , use of portamento (sliding the finger to glide from one pitch to another shimmering fluttering strings and delicate cello all full of rich tension . Continue reading TRANSFORMING STRAUSS AND MOZART – AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA


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’s Three 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 Stravinsky was fluidly followed by “Nightfalls”, the first movement of Four Quarters by Thomas Adès, which sizzled , delicately pulsated and shimmered. It was full of melancholy and some of it sounded like wind chimes or evoked the sound of rain. Continue reading GOLDBERG VARIATIONS : AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA


Steven Isserlis and the Australian Chamber Orchestra

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 Adams Movements (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 Orchestraas 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: Photo Julian Kingma

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


Image above: ACO will begin 2018 with Missy Mazzoli’s world premiere work Dark with Excessive Bright.
Banner image: Australian Chamber Orchestra (photo: Nic Walker)

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

Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

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.

As the Orchestra leader, he danced, crouched and lunged into the music, such was his passion. The Orchestra and Kraggerud developed an attentive rapport playing together with great panache and passion.
Kraggerud briefly spoke about each of the works before they were played and contextualised the works for the audience. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : GRIEG AND BEYOND @ CITY RECITAL HALL 


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