12 August 2017


Listening improves with experience, like many other capabilities. Last night was the Australian Haydn Ensemble. I've heard them many times but I noticed I'm hearing more now. Not all the time, but more frequently. I play music something like this (although don't play it quite like this!) so my awareness has been honed, my hearing attuned. So I marvelled at the way the phrasing moved between players; how the phrases were spelt out together, in conformity, yet not lifelessly cloned; how individual instruments would spell out their parts (Anthony's cello was impeccable) so even a note had form and life, or would bounce with staccato; how the whole was dynamic and expressive and how a few passing glances would hold this all together. The tunes of this are often not so very difficult to read or to play, mostly with harmonies and melodies that fit scalar or arpeggiated patterns except for the occasional oddball phrasing that may trips you up or some cadenza that flies with semiquavers. This is not music of dissonances or odd times but of order and dignity and some humour, except maybe for the slow middle movements that can be things of exquisite beauty. There were the tuning interludes, which are so much a part of this period music, but the rounded tone is the end result and so lovely. And these are friends: those glances were often little smiles and the guys joshed at the end and they all glowed with pleasure. The theme was the baroque oboe and a few quartets named "the Hunt". The format was quartet for all, string quartets or three strings with oboe. The music was Haydn String Quartet ‘The Hunt’ Op.1 No.1 Bbmaj, Mozart Oboe Quartet K.370 Fmaj, Janitsch Oboe Quartet Gmin and Mozart String Quartet ‘The Hunt’ K.458 Bbmaj. This was a small incarnation of the AHE, a core with oboe, but they are always intellectually thoughtful and musically wonderfully satisfying. That delicacy and unity that a string quartet can portray, this time with music and instruments located somewhere in the early classical period. Just a joy as always and an education in just performance.

Australian Haydn Ensemble performed Haydn, Mozart and Janitsch at ANU University House. On the night, AHE comprised Skye McIntosh (violin), Simone Slattery (violin), James Eccles (viola), Anthony Albrecht (cello) and Amy Power (oboe).

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