29 April 2014

Naming a new ensemble

It's good to see the birth of any new ensemble. This one is the Foray Quintet and it's done it first tour with two piano quintets by Fauré. The lineup is piano with two violins, viola and cello; five women from a Canberra / Melbourne association. The name obviously refers to foray as in new undertaking and to Fauré, the composer who they played it on this tour. I'm told we can expect to hear other composers and other combinations, but these two works by Fauré were lovely: modern but with a melodic bent, attractive and thematic. Kimberley introduced the first work, Fauré Quintet no.1 D minor Op.89 with a few observations and associated musical samples. About how the first quintet is bright; the other darker and more complex. About how the accompaniment moves harmonically, how the passages "travel". I understood in diatonic chords rather than in single line phrasing. Kimberley suggested a jazz awareness. Also how the rhythmic movements were more "circular" than "square" as in marches. Again I thought jazz and swing, at least a softer feel. Strange, this, but the final movement of the Op.89 was almost the theme of Fly me to the moon with its falling, rising, falling phrase, starting initially with the pianistic simplicity of a music box. Felicité introduced the other work, Fauré Quintet no.2 C minor Op.115, with descriptive impressions: first movement period drama and obscure moments then Alice in Wonderland; second movement slow man running on beach; third movement dreamtime, end of a busy week, tired reflection that the "viola keeps in check"; fourth movement another musical reference, to the Game of Thrones theme, or perhaps the tango. We all have our own visualisations for music; it's interesting to hear someone else's. This was very beautiful, dignified music, nothing like the extremes that modernism was to develop to, lyrical and sweet but with honest straightforward connection. I was amused to see in the program that Fauré has been called the St Francis of music and was variously described as modest, timid, grateful, content. It's not flamboyant music but immediately comprehended for its with honesty and depth. This is just the second performance of the first tour, but the ensemble was comfortable and convincing and the music seemed well suited. A lovely outing and looking forward to another down the track.

Foray Quintet played two Fauré's Quintets. They comprised Kimberley Steele (piano), Elyane de Fontenay (violin), Felicité Heine (violin), Sarina con Walter (viola) and Anneliese McGee-Collett (cello).

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