Here is a Christmas event for young and old – a remake of Claude Debussy’s children’s ballet La Boîte à joujoux, (The Toybox), composed in 1913 but not performed until 1919, after his death.
Using Debussy’s own short precis, and his many stage directions and emotive tags, we recreate a semblance of the original story, complete with all the original illustrations by André Hellé.
They dance, they play. They are naughty and nice. They fight a battle, but still they live happily ever after in the toybox.
Debussy started orchestrating the piano score, but didn’t get far. Thoroughbass therefore takes the liberty of forming its own children-sized orchestra, consisting of harpsichord, piano, violin, viola da gamba, triangles, whistles, drums, stamps and claps. Narrated by Inara Molinari with Diana Weston, Shaun Ng, Tara Hashambuoy, and Steve Machamer forming the ‘Orchestre Thoroughbass’.
This is a show suitable for the 5 – 85 age group! Take your children or grandchildren for a Christmas treat.
In its first concert for 2018, Thoroughbass presents SEMELE on Sunday March 11 @ 3pm at Mosman Art Gallery.
Taking its title from the cantata by Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, this all-French program features acclaimed soprano Anna Fraser with violinists Stephen Freeman and Shaun Warden, and continuo by Shaun Ng (viola da gamba) and Diana Weston (harpsichord). Continue reading SEMELE: FIRST FOR THOROUGHBASS IN 2018→
Featured photo – Guest artist Michael Tsalka on harpsichord.
This was a very charming and delightful concert performed with delicacy and vigour. There was fine ensemble work by all and some dazzling harpsichord playing. Under the direction of Diana Weston we were privileged to welcome the return of Michael Tsalka on harpsichord.The program featured six short works. First we heard the elegant, quite operatic Johann Freidrich Fasch’s Overture arranged by Stephen Yates. This piece was stately yet lyrical and at times very fast paced.
Next was Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto RV 319 arranged for two harpsichords in three movements again arranged by Stephen Yates. The first movement began with a fast and insistent feel, one harpsichord acting like the violin soloist, the other the orchestra in a delightful dialogue between the two.
The second movement was more heartfelt and sorrowful, melancholic and reflective– however this changed to cascading, shimmering, faster, rippling notes on the keyboard taking us through to the third movement. This was an animated discussion between the two harpsichords full of crystalline delicacy and circling rhythms that led to a bright, powerful conclusion.Continue reading THOROUGHBASS OVERTURE AND CONCERTO @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY→
THE VIOLE DIVINE at St Luke’s Church Mosman was a concert which took a satisfying glimpse at music featuring the seven-stringed viola da gamba. All five items on the programme revealed the nature of eighteenth century chamber music.
Compositional complexities, ensemble textures and period ornamentation were delivered by Thoroughbass’ trio of violin, harpsichord and the featured viola da gamba.
This concept exposed the audience to a varied display of the expressivity, characteristic mellowness and agility of the viola da gamba as written for by major French and German composers. Shaun Ng’s playing was sensitive and well-nuanced. He showed a desired restraint but was always ready to switch to fiery virtuosic playing when required. Continue reading Thoroughbass -The Viole Divine @ St Luke’s Church Mosman→
The ‘Flying West’ concert was a culmination of two years’ hard work in which compositions from the 1970s by Ann Carr-Boyd were introduced to a modern audience. The works have been recently published and recorded, as well as the majority of them programmed in this diverse and captivating performance event.
An exciting snapshot of richly creative and individual compositions was supplied, and the concert had pleasing momentum. The performances by Diana Weston and Thoroughbass of these interesting works made for an entertaining concert experience in the bright acoustic of the Mosman Art Gallery hall.
The programme also included a new commission, “Flying West”, written in 2014. The composition, responding to a poem about the work day of the Flying Doctor staff, has been scored for harpsichord, recorder and cello. The intimate tone colour combinations and highly evocative gestures of this new piece reflect the earlier works, whose ingenuity avoided the dissonant avant-garde manipulations of the era. Continue reading Thoroughbass – Flying West @ Mosman Art Gallery→
This weekend early music group Thoroughbass joined with award winning singer Heston Hannah to present a collection of baroque and contemporary works at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The concert was headlined with Britten’s Phaedra, which was presented with a great flair for storytelling by Hannah. The strings and harpsichord work in a kind of chorus and response with the soprano voice, featuring an urgently descending atonal melodic line on the violins and low, humming sustained notes as an erratic rhythm on the timpani accompanies the vocals. Hannah’s voice perfectly suits the Greek mythological tale of Phaedra’s forbidden love. Her choice of guttural tone throughout the recitatives particularly suits the distress that Phaedra feels and her acceptance of the inevitability of death. Continue reading Britten’s Phaedra→
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