Australian Chamber Orchestra : Reflections on Gallipoli @ the City Recital Hall


With Neil Armfield’s wonderful direction, a great troupe of actors, a magnificent opera singer, and very effective use of multimedia, this concert was a powerful tribute to the fallen on both sides.

Each work shared in common an artist’s response and outpouring to the horrific trench experiences Passionately spoken, plainly articulated first hand accounts of those who fought, lived and somehow endured the horrors of those Turkish battlefields were recited by Nathaniel Dean, Yalin Ozucelik and Taryn Fiebig,

Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra : Reflections on Gallipoli @ the City Recital Hall

The ACO with Joseph Tawadros @ City Recital Hall

Inset Pic- Joseph Tawadros. Pic Josua Castro
Inset Pic- Joseph Tawadros. Pic Josua Castro. Featured Pic- Joseph Tawadros. Pic Imtiaz Almaz

The ACO is celebrating its 40th birthday with a series of terrific concerts, in which they are performing with some of their best friends.

This concert featured an ACO in dazzling form and  while violinist Richard Tognetti and Egyptian-Australian Joseph Tawadros, internationally renowned as a virtuoso of the oud, were keen to find hidden links between the Venetian baroque and the East, their main success was not to discover them but to create them.

The innovative programming combined both old and new.  You could hear the Egyptian and also some Flamenco influences. Tognetti’s brilliant arrangements of Tawadros playing, ranging across a profusion of rhythmic time signatures, enchanted. Continue reading The ACO with Joseph Tawadros @ City Recital Hall

The ACO- Marwood’s Serenade

Brilliant violinist Anthony Marwood who was also the guest director and conductor for the last ACO concert of the year
Brilliant violinist Anthony Marwood who was also the guest director and conductor for the last ACO concert of the year. Featured pic by Pia Johnson

Under the umbrella title MARWOOD’S SERENADE the Australian Chamber Orchestra is collaborating with their friend Anthony Marwood as guest director and conductor and lead violin. This concert closes a very exciting 2014 season with some unexpected, delightful riches in a showcase of scintillating string orchestra repertoire.

Marwood himself is tall, pale and imposing, and plays passionately, delicately and with enormous presence. He was born in London and studied with Emanuel Hurwitz at the Royal Academy of Music. Marwood now has a discography of over thirty recordings and has performed internationally with major chamber ensembles.

The program opens with Stravinsky’s balletic tribute to Tchaikovsky, his Divertimento based on La Baiser de la Fee (The Fairy Kiss). The music is glorious and the tone of Marwood’s Bergonzi violin superb. This is Stravinsky at his best, largely using lesser known Tchaikovsky excerpts (for example, instruments are allocated to specific notes of Tchaikovsky’s Humouresque. Some of the work had a mysterious feel, some of it flowed and soared or darted,- you could hear the spins and jumps required for this vibrant work.

The second work on the program, Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in E major Op. 22 was composed in May 1875. The first movement begins delightfully, lush and swirling, and features two intertwining melodies. Then there is a jaunty, cascading rhythm and a rather wistful melancholic return to the original theme. The second movement includes an impassioned waltz with sweeping, flowing, rippling melodies contrasted with sharp, spiky interruptions.

The third movement is, at first, a little slower but gathers momentum as it continues. The fourth movement was achingly beautiful and poignant. The final fifth movement had a vibrant, spiky fast spectacular opening and concluded with a memorable flourish.

To complete the concert we heard the Enescu Octet, first performed in 1909, in the version for full string orchestra. Enescu’s work is now regarded as a blend of modern and late Romanticism. The work includes roughly nine to twelve melodic themes, most of which are introduced in the first section.

Enescu Octet has a very strong opening with rumbles from the cellos. Later, lilting, meandering melodies are contrasted with tumultuous flurries and fiendishly complicated rhythms.

The second movement was quite briskly played. The last movement was far slower and more melancholic. The playing of the aching melodies was exquisite. Sudden dark stormy changes were interspersed with flowing, luminous sections. The third and final part of the work is a lyrical, slow section which added even more themes.

This was a marvelous concert, full of luscious playing.

Running time 2 hours ( approx) including interval.

MARWOOD’S SERENADE by the Australian Chamber Orchestra is playing the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, on the 19th, 20th and 25th November and at the Sydney Opera House on the 30th November.

ACO: Tognetti’s Beethoven

Richard Tognetti and Jonny Greenwood. Pic Lisa Tomasetti
Inset pic-Richard Tognetti and Jonny Greenwood. (c) Lisa Tomasetti. Featured pic- The maestro with violin in hand, Richard Tognetti (c) Simon Van Boxtel

Those of us lucky enough to be in the audience for this concert were treated to an angelic aural feast. Led by Tognetti and with featured soloists Timo –Veikko Valve on cello and Yevgeny Sudbin on piano the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) played sublimely.

As others of my colleagues have remarked this concert could be subtitled, ‘In the key of C’.  Most of the program was heavenly, ravishing music by Beethoven but it also included the Australian premiere of Jonny Greenwood’s Water. Tognetti conducted dynamically and enthusiastically when not performing solo on the violin. The Orchestra was supplemented where required with extra orchestral members , meaning we heard a full wind section, brass and timpani. Continue reading ACO: Tognetti’s Beethoven


Violinist Satu Vanska
Lutoslawksi’s piece ‘Subito’ featured some virtuoso playing by Satu Vanska

This was a superb concert, with the playing energetic and featuring a glorious, warm tone. The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s special guest artist was the  internationally renowned Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen.

First up, the Lutoslawksi ‘ Subito’ , the composer’s last work , featured Satu Vanska in a firecracker showpiece .It had an electric , explosive opening that was shattering and sharp. The piano as played by Jumppanen is tempestuous and tumultuous ,in wild ,spiky dialogue with the strings which snap and snarl or, sometimes, sing. It is a sharp, fractured piece.



The Australian Chamber Orchestra for this current program tackle the biggest symphonic configuration in their history and two ACO premieres in one concert, the heavyweight Sibelius 6 and Mahler 4. The concert could have another subtitle , ‘ Spring water and Blue sky’ to encapsulate the two different symphonies , Sibelius’‘ spring water ‘and Mahler’s ‘ blue sky’ .

First however we were treated to a delightful surprise prelude. To introduce the newest member of the ACO Instrument family – a rare Joseph Guarneri filius Andreæ violin dating from 1714 – violinist Rebecca Chan performed the exquisite Sibelius Serenade No 2, Op. 69, for violin and orchestra, with the orchestral parts adapted as a quartet from the ensemble.It was haunting ,shimmering , sometimes dance-like and at one point you could almost see the whirling snowflakes.

The complete ACO then assembled onstage for their version of Sibelius’ Symphony No 6 ,of which the composer said it evoked `spring water’’ and always reminded him of the smell of the first snow of the winter.



Third image
A range of musical styles were on show in this brilliant ACO concert

This HUGE epic performance will leave you reeling with exhaustion and euphoria. Boldly ambitious and sweeping, for this extraordinary concert the Australian Chamber Orchestra attempts to follow the entire history of music in an evening (42,000 years of music in roughly two and a half hours by a blending of an expanded chamber orchestra, six vocalists and two electronic musicians).

Linked in with the VIVID Festival as well, this was an astonishing , ravishing concert. Directed by Ignatius Jones it also featured electronic duo The Presets who are returned to their classical music roots.



Swedish virtuoso clarinettist Martin Frost, the guest of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Pic Matts Backer
Swedish virtuoso clarinettist Martin Frost, the guest of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Pic Matts Backer

This was a superb concert, the audience particularly going into raptures over the Mozart clarinet concerto, with an unusual, challenging program beforehand. A strong Nordic connection was emphasised by the ACO’s Assistant Leader Satu Vänskä leading the ensemble on this occasion, and also introducing the works. Swedish virtuoso clarinettist Martin Frost, guest star in this concert, has an international profile, and next year will be artistic director of the Winterfest in Sweden. Frost also holds the post of Artistic Director of the International Chamber Music Festival in Stavanger, Norway.

First was RAUTAVAARA‘s ‘A Finnish Myth’, with ominous undertones and possibly a hint of Britten?  The energetic playing of the Orchestra emphasised the sharp, spiky strings and discordant themes which were at certain points contrasted with more lyrical, evocative ones.  Thunderous cellos and violas created a disturbing atmosphere.

The Myth segued straight into the Denisov, a far gentler violin showcase for Vanska, quite dancelike, with fast, fiddly fingers demanded  in the Paganini style.

The most striking work of the program was the Australian premiere of Goran Frost’s’ Dtangled’, featuring his brother Martin on clarinet. ‘DTangled,’ we were informed, began with improvisation. The question was asked ‘Isn’t all music quotes?” “And, indeed, who are we? Wearing tap shoes and  a distinctive slinky black suit with white piping detail ,  Martin Frost is tall , elegant and blonde and conducted keeping time through stamping his feet , clicking his fingers and dancing.

The dancing was almost Michael Jackson in style , but also at times ‘Petrushka’  like with Frost as the  marionette. Sometimes it was semi robotic and included jumps and breakdancing. The clarinet was magnificently played to convey an eerie, spooky atmosphere while at other times it was spiky, sharp and percussive. For one section there was unusual use of bowing on the soundboard for the tumultuous cello. For this work in particular there was dramatic lighting.

The Mozart Symphony No 21 in A K 134 that followed had sumptuous, elegant playing and was given a brisk, pulsating performance. The first movement had a lush, rich, vibrant sound. The second movement saw a theme stated then taken and developed with emphasis on the flutes and horns. The third movement had a jaunty dance like opening but became lyrical and flowing with a use of pizzicato. The final fourth movement had surging violins, all of which are ‘typical’ of the ACO ‘house style’

After interval came Broadstocks’ shimmering, haunting ‘Never truly lost’, commissioned by the family of the late Paddy Pallin, swirling and spiky with a pulsating cello. In the composer’s own words, this is, “a journey through an imaginary landscape and (an) imaginary bushwalk”. Vanska’s violin playing was sparse yet exquisite, the finale having the feel of the creation of stars, with a sonar pulse sound.

At the end of this piece there was a stunned silence then tumultuous applause.

Then came the big finale that we had all been waiting for, the Mozart clarinet concerto. Frost’s playing on his Bassett clarinet was sublime, ravishing, in his extraordinary dialogue with the orchestra. The second movement was lyrical, with fluid virtuosic ripples from the clarinet. The third movement had a jaunty opening and Frost had great fun with the tricky, bright flourishes. Frost did not move about as for ‘DTangled’ but rather swayed a little and breathed the music. Sheer bliss and it was given a rapturous reception. The encore was a sizzling rendition of one of Brahm’s Hungarian dances that still left the audience wanting more.

Running time 2 hours (approx) including interval

Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Mozart Clarinet Concerto  concert was performed between the 14th and 24th November at two venues, the Angel Place Recital Hall and the Sydney Opera House.


RAUTAVAARA- A Finnish Myth
DENISOV- Paganini Caprice No.9
G FRÖST- DTangled (Australian Premiere)
MOZART– Symphony No.21 in A, K.134
BROADSTOCK- Never Truly Lost (World Premiere)*
MOZART- Clarinet Concerto in A, K.622