Tag Archives: Maurice Ravel



Part of the Vivid Music program. the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra was in fine form for this exciting ,challenging concert that included two world premieres.

Guest conductorFabian Russell led the Orchestra elegantly yet energetically with precise control.

The concert began with Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau le Couperin , a work dedicated to friends and acquaintances the composer lost in in the first World War While. Inspired by Couperin, the work is distinctly 20th Century.

The first movement with its shimmering harp and strings rippled and flowed .The second movement opened strongly and featured the woodwind. The melody was passed around the various sections of the Orchestra and then a second bouncy, bounding melody was taken and developed. The third movement was mostly a dialogue between the string sections that builds to a sweeping crescendo then calms and becomes lyrical, almost birdlike but with rumbling undertones beneath. The fourth movement was off to a crashing furious opening, the Orchestra a whirlwind that led to the violent scurrying conclusion. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : PASTORAL @ THE CONCOURSE


For those of us lucky enough to attend, this was an absolutely glorious concert as part of the Willoughby Symphony Chamber series at the Zenith Theatre as directed by Daniel Dean .

First was a shimmering, exquisite rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for Harp Septet . (1907) After a delicate start by flute and clarinet, it was lush and limpid then darting , bubbling and scurrying. Soloist Will Nichols on the harp was superb passionate , authoritative yet fragile and delicate in his instrumental solos and the featured cadenza ,all leading to a scampering conclusion.

The we heard Carl Vine’s Inner World : Cello and Tape , with Liam Meany on solo cello. Vine apparently hand edited the sound score of the tape, which at times includes cascading piano, at one point has an insistent almost Flamenco like rhythm and at another time is very poignant. For one section towards the end it is as if the music is sort of revolving in circles .Meany’s live , passionate playing in an extraordinary bravura performance is at times dominant , sometimes fast and furious,  at others delicate or sometimes sharp and spiky . As Vine has written : ‘The performer is not only live, but also crystallised, dissected and re-arranged’ in a striking performance’. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY CHAMBER SERIES : SHATTERED RESTRAINTS

Live at Lunch – Ravel and Faure

Live at Lunch

To round off the 2017 series of Live at Lunch concerts we were treated to a most elegant and inspiring concert, with a majorly French feel , featuring artistic director Jane Rutter the renowned flautist and the tremendous Acacia Quartet led by Lisa Stewart. Founded in 2010, Acacia Quartet has quickly won great respect for their versatile and inventive programs which often couple established repertoire with the unorthodox. In 2013 Acacia was nominated for both an ARIA Award and an APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award.

The Acacia members were in orchestral black while Rutter was dramatic in a red and black outfit.

First up we heard an enchanting version of the lush, lyrical and seductive Pavane by Faure ( arr George Pikler) with Rutter on her favourite golden flute . A pavane is a Renaissance dance that’s generally described as a formal processional walk accompanied by a stately melody. The performance was full of elegant floating grace .
The main section of the concert was devoted to Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major in four movements as performed by the Acacia Quartet.

Ravel dedicated his work to Faure and it leans towards neo-Classicism . It was written in 1903 when he was 28. The quartet played magnificently , intently and with a great sense of being a unified whole .The first movement was passionate and questioning , volcanically ebbing and flowing. Rippling sections were contrasted with sharp spiky ones and it had a soft shimmering finish (note the use of pizzicato too.)

The second movement dashed off to a boisterous exuberant start and included dizzying scurrying violins. A passionate lamenting segment was contrasted with a stinging one. The third movement was fluid and intense and the final movement was fast and emphatic, full of dynamic intensity and was bubbling and flowing in parts. The finale is challenging because of its constantly shifting tonal changes and the Quartet handled this brilliantly.

Pessard’s Andalouse and Bolero followed taking us to Spain (the Andalouse , elegant and courtly with dominating swirling , bubbling flute ) and then the vibrant Bolero a bit more French ( no , NOT Ravel’s) with its darting shimmering flute and bubbling strings.
Before the final piece the Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles Gidney was introduced and Rutter announced the most exciting season of seven concerts for 2018 .

The concert concluded with the heartfelt, delicate and flowing Pavane pour Une Infante Defunte by Ravel (1899). It is a meditation on grief and loss and a way of life that has disappeared. As we left for lunch we could buy CDs and brochures for the 2018 season were handed out – the box office was extremely busy!

Live at Lunch RAVEL STRING QUARTET, RAVEL & FAURÉ DEUX PAVANNES was at the Concourse for one performance only 15 November 2017 .  For more information visit:  http://theconcourse.com.au/live-lunch-2017-2/


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

Australian Chamber Orchestra presents A French Celebration @ City Recital Hall

Susan Graham
Mezzo soprano Susan Graham was one of the concert’s shining lights

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.

For more about Australian Chamber Orchestra – A French Celebration, visit https://www.aco.com.au/whats_on/event_detail/french

Paris Opera Ballet: Balanchine and Millepied

As part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season, we were privileged to see the Paris Opera Ballet perform a classic double bill, Balanchine’s 1947 ‘Palais de Cristal’ and a new version of Ravel’s ‘ Daphnis Chloe’ by Millepied (who will take over from Brigitte Lefèvre in November). Both were steeped in the essence of classical ballet but revealed to be rather abstract. The dancing was superb, but I was left a little disappointed.

Balanchine’s ‘Palais de Cristal’ to Bizet’s ‘Symphony in C ‘, was originally produced in 1947 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and is one of his works that is a homage to Petipa and his Imperial Russian roots .It hints at his major full length work ‘Jewels’, choreographed twenty years later. Technically the performance was superb. but it was plotless and very show , with no real emotion. The glittering ,lavish costumes were designed by Christian Lacroix .As in his ‘Jewels’ , Balanchine assigns each movement of this work a particular colour: Allegro in red, Adagio in dark blue, Allegro Vivace in green, the second Allegro in pearly white. These colours and the choreography attempt to illustrate and emphasise the music and its structure.

With four movements and a finale, the dancer’s technique is severely tested with difficult balances and changes of direction and also Balanchine’s trademark demand of the fiendish speed with which the dancers have to perform very technical academic sequences. It was all extremely formulaic and formalised. There is no ‘set’ as such just a plain beautifully lit backclcoth. A lot of the ballet was shot from above so you could see the lines and pattern effects of Balanchine’s very demanding choreography. Balanchine devised angular, off balance movements with a dynamic thrust yet simultaneously his style here is very controlled and metronomic , at times repetitive and definitely On The Beat. The work , slightly adapted , is now often known as ‘Symphony in C’. The orchestra under enthusiastic maestro Phillipe Jordan was splendid with an enchanting, warm tone.

Continue reading Paris Opera Ballet: Balanchine and Millepied