29 July 2015

Mozart in Mannheim

Well, not just Mannheim; Paris too. This is the second of a trio of concerts featuring Erin Helyard and Skye McIntosh playing music of Mozart at ANU University House, in the Great Hall, under the Leonard French's massive and roughly colourful mural, Regeneration. Erin was playing a regenerated replica of a piano, or hammered keyboard, of the period, Joseph Stein. Mozart himself had written to his father about a piano by this maker, apparently excited like someone lusting for the latest iPhone. At least the movies make out Mozart to be like that. I've read since that Stein would leave out his pianos in all weather to crack so he could repair them as more durable. Amusing. Erin spoke of how he found the period instruments fitted well together for these duets. Skye was also playing a 250yo period instrument (Joseph Panormo? ) with gut strings and baroque bow and period bridge. They played two Mozart Sonatas for keyboard and violin (G major K301 and A major K305) sandwiching a work of Mozart's from Paris, 12 variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", or, better known to us, Twinkle twinkle little star (K265). The keyboard was earthy (described by Erin as woodwind-like, bassoon in bass and flute in treble). The whole is softer than a modern pairing, more coarse but also more natural, less perfect and precise. Skye could dig into the gut strings and Erin could approach the limit of the hammered strings. I noticed the tuning going off with his attacks, but these instruments are less stable. That's the art in this game. I'll miss the third of this series, Mozart in Vienna, but it's been a pleasure. Free is nice, but mostly I'll miss it for the committed and nicely connected performances. Great stuff.

Erin Helyard (fortepiano) and Skye McIntosh (violin) performed middle Mozart in the Great Hall of University House.

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