22 June 2015

Joy in abstraction

Australian Haydn Ensemble were in town again. They are friends of mine and the music is intimate and personal. The first work was Haydn ... Michael Haydn. They are like this. They search the repertoire, develop themes and explore them, expose unusual combinations and relationships. All done on period instruments, so the sound is tender, dignified, often light, perhaps distant from our do-it-quick practicality, perhaps sombre and decorous. Very pretty. Michael H was a dream. The first movement, courtly; the second movement, with viola and violin conversing against sparse cello and pizzicato viola and another violin; then a minuet with passing melodies and rapid violins and viola for the final, fourth movement. Then another Beethoven concerto, this one no.3 in C minor, in a series with Neal Peres da Costa. Neal played a copy of an 1819/30 Conrad Graff woodframe piano. This is the style of keyboard that Beethoven would have heard and written for: tiny hammers, leather covered; straight strings, not crossed; lightly toned; flute-like top end, orchestral mid and brassy bass; 5 pedals. So said Neil. The tone was drastically different, of course, as are all these instruments. I heard the keyboard as relatively muffled and softly woody. So this was very different from a modern orchestral setting: just a small chamber orchestra and this light keyboard. Delightful. Then Mozart that everyone knows: Symphony no.40 in C minor, K.550. How lovely to feel the immediate affinity to a piece that's known. All this in an intimate setting with the familiar tones of a period chamber orchestra. Of course, I followed my mates, especially Jacqueline on her vibrant and wonderfully fluent bass, but then I'm a fan of her bass. So delightful, light but also true. This was another delicious and hugely enjoyed concert. Intimacy is something worth the world in my music. To know the people, to feel the closeness and engage in the chatter afterwards gives purpose and connection and that's such a matter in art, especially in an art as abstract as music. What pleasure to spend another night with AHE. A great joy in my calendar.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble comprised Skye McIntosh (violin, artistic director), Neal Peres da Costa (guiest fortepiano), Melissa Farrow (flute), Matthew Greco (violin), James Eccles (viola), Health Lloyd (viola), Anton Baba (cello) and Jacqueline Dossor (bass). AHE played Michael Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart at the ANU Larry Sitsky Room.

1 comment:

James Ashburner said...

It was superb. The arrangement for small ensemble of the Beethoven is a triumph: Vi King Lim really understands both the music and the instruments. He's one to watch for.I greatly enjoyed seeing Neal Peres da Costa backing the Llewellyn Hall complex, and playing that lovely Graf.