21 December 2014

AHE swells

I'd seen the stage set up, but I was still surprised when the augmented Australian Haydn Ensemble entered from the rear of the Sitsky room. This was 21 musicians; far larger than I'd seen before from this group. They just kept coming. This was not the only surprise. The 2 keyboards, plucked and hammered, at centre and the version of Haydn that seemed not to have been recorded before. Then straight into that unrecorded work: the Vernier version of Haydn Symphony no.22 The Philosopher in Ebmajor, apparently rearranged in the vibrant Paris of the time, using flutes in place of cor anglais. My recording may be a world premiere; that's exciting. The rest of the program comprised 3 works by CPE Bach to end the AHE's celebration of his 300th anniversary year. Firstly, his Concerto for harpsichord and fortepiano, utilising the two keyboards again, also in Ebmajor. After the interval, two pieces without accidentals (near enough), his Sinfonia in C major and Cello concerto in A minor featuring cello soloist Daniel Yeadon. The AHE has established itself in remarkably short time: this is only its second year. Proof is their welcoming of significant names in period music and their role as ensemble in residence at ANU this year. As well as Erin Helyard conducting from the harpsichord, Daniel Yeadon and Neal Peres Da Costa on the fortepiano, this concert featured Catherine Mackintosh (of Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal College of Music, and much more) as guest leader. Many AHE guests are new names to me, but the discoveries are a pleasure. This is all courtly, dignified music, although with its share of humour and pleasure and even profundity, although it's never too obviously displayed. THis was just a wildly successful performance. There were a few slips but all was welcomed with joy and verve and this is of so much more importance in my book. This is not at all staid. Erin was vibrant and mobile; Neal was all eyes, to Erin and Catherine and further; I think it was Simone who was buoyant with joy at the pleasure of it all; AHE stands, so there's constant movement. I noticed myself moving with this music: it's alive, vibrant, it invites movement so you squirm in your seat. The pleasure was evident as the musicians left and in their joy after. A wonderful, musically populated, enlivening concert.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble finished its year at ANU with a CPE Bach 300th anniversary concert in the Larry Sitsky room. Erin Helyard (director, harpsichord) led 21 musicians: Catherine Mackintosh, Matthew Greco, Stephen Freeman, Mayee Clohessy, Anna McMichael, Skye McIntosh, Simone Slattery, Raphael Font, Cath Shugg (violins), James Eccles, Heather Lloyd (violas), Daniel Yeadon, Anthea Cottee, Anthony Albrecht (cellos), Jacqueline Dossor (bass), Melissa Farrow, Mikaela Oberg (flutes), Darryl Poulsen, Doree Dixon (horns), Neal Peres Da Costa (fortepiano). Daniel Yeadon performed the cello solo; Catherine Mackintosh was quest leader.

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