15 March 2014

Anything but heartless

The Australian Haydn Ensemble feels like living music, not electronic digital-perfect but with body and life. I imagine this is what music was like in the past. Instruments and education were not the production of machines and computer accuracy. Each gut string a product of another body. It's a revealing musical experience. Intimate and human. Women in lacey black and harpsichord with country idyl scenes. I hear elemental sounds. Waves of notes, rising and falling and wind and weather and country in the music. This is countryside and nature that none of us, probably not even our rural cousins, would experience now, in our age of vehicles and machines and communications and power in a switch rather than in the legs of a horse of the smouldering of a lump of timber. The period instruments help in this, notably the recorder-like tone of a wooden flute. Perhaps the room influences it, too; the Larry Sitsky room would have been big for musicians of this period. The music itself is located somewhere between baroque and classical. The is Abel and JC Bach and Haydn and Stanley. Some of it feels like popular music. Some of it feels pretty straightforward. Politics and society are always complex, but this music sounds young, of the early days of Western musical history. Lots of unisons, easy rhythms and simple times and attractive melodies, syncopations that are just dotted notes and consonant harmonies in major keys with scalar runs and third intervals. But it's quite beautiful with its mix of tones, the flute in parallel with the violins and the harpsichord plucking in accompaniment and the bass and cello working away below. For a few songs, also a male baritone singing of nymphs and shepherds and the like and the sounds of country and nature. The Australian Haydn Ensemble are artists in residence this year at the ANU School of Music and this was a lovely introduction to their music. Loved it.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble performed in the Larry Sitsky Room. They comprised Skye McIntosh (violin), Alice Evans (violin), Heather Lloyd (viola), Noeleen Wright (cello), Stewart Smith (harpsichord) and Jacqueline Dossor (bass). David Greco (baritone) joined them for several songs.

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