10 February 2019

Part Bach

ACO and their guests the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir played Arvo Part and JS Bach and a few others. It shouldn't have been so unusual, but it was. Arvo Part is common enough if not like Bach himself. There were a few snippets thrown in, too, from the relative source countries: for Estonia, Galina Grigorjeva; for Australia, Sculthorpe. The Grigorjeva was perhaps almost my favourite of the night, with complex harmonies that had me in raptures at the unexpected atonalities. Fabulous sounding and a very demanding sing. Then Sculthorpe, Djilile, sounding all the world of Australian Aboriginal country. Then the Bach and Part. They were obvious enough in each style: Bach with his frequent fugal lines, and Part with his deep economy. I hadn't checked the progrma well enough so was a bit surprised and lost as they played the whole first half with truncated stops and no expectation, or practice, of applause. So this sparseness merged with this energetic parallelism which is the fugue, and some multiple movements passed by and then Part's supreme Summa, which I know of but don't particularly recognise. The second half was similar although I was more ready to recognise the passing works. Part and two Bachs and the Grigorjeva and Sculthorpe and a final Berliner mass by Part with the various recognisable movements. Then the end. The choir had been lovely with some crystaline and prominent soprano and otherwise clearly enunciated and intoned parts. The ACO was their polished self. I particularly noted the bass. I mentioned this in the break to Celeste and she, a cellist, was totally understanding , noting her own concentration on the cellos. One thing about that bass is the pizz: the bass pizz seemed quite jazzy in style, crossing strings rather than lifting. I wonder if that's a function of baroque? That was Maxime, but Timo-Veikko's pizz was somewhat similar. And Richard up front as conductor was different. I imagine this band could play without a conductor with ease and I can't always, so I was intrigued by his undemanding take on the conductor's job, not so much counts as dynamics and prompts. So this was ACO again. A great outfit contrasting some great music with some invited mates in a unique style of performance. Nice.

Richard Tognetti (conductor) led the Australian Chamber Orchestra with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir playing Arvo Part and JS Bach with Galina Grigorjeva and Sculthorpe at Llewellyn.

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