Posted by: jkirkby8712 | March 18, 2012

Wednesday 14th March 2012 – concert with the ‘new’ Australian String Quartet

Early start, with phone call to 3NRG with the weekend cricket results on the local scene, and a few tips for today’s horse races down at Sale, in Gippsland. Later on in the morning, a trip to the radio station, but a bit disappointed to find no-one from the administration [as I’d been led to believe] nor were the mid-Wednesday morning presenters on air, once again!!  It’s a pity that one or two of our ‘top’ shows are so irregular in their appearances. Such is life!!  Anyway, couldn’t do or plan a few things I’d planned.  Made up for it, by a visit to the Blues Plus coffee lounge, a bit of shopping, and ‘lashing out’ at Collins/ABC store by purchasing the latest CD featuring my favourite Australian jazz singer – Katie Noonan –  called ‘first seed ripening’, and recorded by ‘Elixir’, and featuring Katie, who does all of the singing [14 tracks], which my mind has already slotted two or three tracks into next Monday night’s program!

Also received an email from the musical band/group ‘The Little Stevies’, which had the following news of interest –   Hey folks,    As you may already know we’re playing a show in Melbourne for the Brunswick Music Festival this Sunday. But what you probably don’t know is that this show will be our last in Melbourne for a while, and a very special one.  You see, over the last six months Byll has been working on a very special side-project – a collaboration which is due out in June. She’s been having trouble keeping it a secret lately, seeing as it’s getting so big, and if you’ve seen her recently you might know what it is. Yes, that’s right, you guessed it – there’s a little Little Stevie on the way! So once the little fella arrives the big Little Stevies will be taking a well-deserved break. Furthermore, as one Little Stevie arrives, another says goodbye. When the Stevies return it will be, sadly, without Robin. He’s off on some new adventures in distant lands, no doubt with a video camera in hand, and we wish all the very best to our dear friend and co-founding member.  Never fear though, mother Byll and auntie Beth have a brand new album in the pipeline which we plan to release early next year, with live shows to follow. So make sure you come down on Sunday for our last show with Robin and join us when we sing The Tram Song louder and harder than ever before (but not too loud as to send Byll into labor). Details: Sunday March 18th  Doors: 7:30pm (10pm curfew)  Phoenix Public House, 133 Sydney Rd Brunswick  With support from Immigrant Union   Presented by The Brunswick Music Festival. Over and Out –  The Little Stevies..  I like to go to that, but not the right kind of venue to really alone at my age, mores the pity!! No doubt I will keep an eye open for the new CD.

I play music from the Little Stevies quite often on a Monday night – bit of a mixture of pop/folk genres, I’m selective with the tracks I play on the show, those that I think fit the general mode of that night [Monday nights].

Meanwhile, late this afternoon, it was a trip [by train] into the city – first concert by the newly configured Australian String Quartet [ASQ], with two new members at the Melbourne Recital Centre. I didn’t buy an annual subscription this year, was not sure how often I would go, and wanted to try some other musicians. However, decided to buy a ticket last week, for their first concert of the 2012 season.

It was the debut season for new line-up featuring new members Kristian Winther (violin) and Stephen King (viola)., joining the remaining members,  Anne Horton (violin), and Rachel  Johnston (cello). Kristian Winther and Stephen King were appointed to the ASQ in September following an extensive  search. Both Winther and King are regarded as two of the most sought after classical musicians in  Australia. According to ASQ Executive Officer, Alison Beare there is great anticipation for the 2012 season.  “Kristian, Anne, Stephen and Rachel are all committed to the future of chamber music in Australia and  abroad. They are an innovative group, with new ideas and territory to explore. The foundations have  been set, and the future is incredibly bright”, said Alison Beare. From what I would hear tonight, they seemed to have quickly melded together as a great new quartet.

The ASQ subscription season comprises of three national tours; Towards Light (March), Legacy (June) and Sunrise (September). The season focuses on celebrating Australian music on a grand scale with works from Peter Sculthorpe  and a new viola and string quartet commission from Brett Dean, which has been co – commissioned by  the ASQ. 2012 is also peppered with the great classics.  Tonight’s concert – ‘T o w a r d s   l i g h t’ featured  Peter Sculthorpe’s, String Quartet No 11;  Dvoˇrák’s, String Quartet No 10   in E flat major, Op 51; and,  Shostakovich’s, Piano Quintet, Op 57, and had a guest performer [another reason I decided to go tonight – love to hear the piano join the ASQ] –  Daniel de Borah, on the piano.

So tonight’s program began with a work by the doyen of Australian composers, Peter Sculthorpe,  one of many compositions inspired by the  starkly beautiful landscape of Kakadu and its  inhabitants.

From Australia’s unique interior, we travelled to the sunlit uplands of old Bohemia: few  composers wrote music in all genres which  radiated such spontaneous warmth and  charm as Antonin Dvoˇrák. Even by his exalted  standards, the Op 51 String Quartet is full  of gorgeous melodies where exuberance is  masterfully fused with poignant tenderness.

The program culminated, in the second half, with one of Dmitri  Shostakovich’s towering chamber masterpieces:  the Piano Quintet, Op 57, composed during  the fateful year 1940 and described as “a  last ray of hope” for Russia. It is a work of grand symphonic proportions combining the  composer’s hallmark skittish humour and  austere dignity with an underlying tension. Tonight’s guest,  Australian pianist Daniel de Borah (formerly  Hill) was 3rd Prize winner at the Sydney  International Piano Competition in 2004 and  has since appeared as soloist with the English  Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart  Players, and with the Royal Philharmonic  Orchestra at the Barbican and Cadogan Hall,  London. In Australia he has performed with  the Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra Symphony  Orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra  and Orchestra Victoria. He has given recitals on four continents and has featured alongside  many leading soloists including Rivka Golani  (viola), Li-Wei Qin (cello), Thomas Indermühle (oboe) and Andrew Goodwin (tenor) at the  Australian Festival of Chamber Music in  Townsville, the Canberra International Music  Festival, the Oxford Lieder Festival and  London’s Wigmore Hall. Daniel now divides his  time between Melbourne and London.

I must say that I found this music the most inspiring of the evening –  in particular , I think during the first movement – a wonderfully soothing [almost whispering] duet with the two violins, absolutely exquisite few moments, followed by the viola joining in, almost unnoticed, as with the cello also, then suddenly the strings almost seem to briefly disappear, as the piano exerted it’s role, yet still in a peaceful and quiet, but not keeping the strings down for long!  In musical technical terms, obviously not a very good description of what was happening I suppose, but nevertheless, as I sat there listening to the two violins initially, I could not help thinking that it was most beautiful passage I’d heard for many a long time!  The music itself  – a Quintet for strings and piano (two violins, viola and cello)., is in five separate movements, and usually last about 30 minutes, but I felt it was a bit longer tonight. It is one of Dmitri Shostakovich’s best known chamber works, which he began composing  in the summer of 1940 [when he was about 34]  and completed it on September 14 of the same year. It was written for the Beethoven Quartet, as were most of his string quartets, and premiered by them with Shostakovich himself at the piano on November 23, 1940 at the Moscow Conservatory, to great success. In 1941, it was awarded the Stalin Prize.

Earlier, the Sculthorpe work ‘Jabiru Dreaming’ provided a very contemporary piece of classic music – one of a series of three works that Peter Sculthorpe composed from 1988 – this one, described as a gift from Australia to France, marking the Bicentenary of the [French] Revolution, was actually premiered in Paris in June 1989. Sculthorpe based it on three short Indigenous melodies transcribed by members of Nicolaus Baudin’s French Exploratory Expedition to Australia in 1802. The first movement sees Sculthorpe refer directly to the Indigenous music of the Kakadu region in the Northern Territory. The second movement is based on dance chants transcribed  by the Baudin expedition In writing this, and the other two pieces, Sculthorpe noted that “Flying over Nourlangie Rock, I could see across the great floodplains to the abandoned remains of early white settlement, to the Arafura Sea and, in my imagination, to Torres Strait and even the islands of Indonesia. The music of these places, and of Kakadu itself, fused in my mind”.

Then it was back to the traditional classics, with  Antonin Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 10. Dvorak had quoted a banned Slavic song in his third string quartet [for political reasons], but in No. 10, the ethnic elements are integrated into the overall form of the music, which gives a mix of themes from folk-tunes, slow elegiac music played off against the rhythms of Czech dance music, and even a third movement emphasising almost a lullaby-like theme. Music for the times, written nearly 110 years, prior to the Australian, Peter Sculthorpe, yet both in their own ways drawing on the music of indigenous and folk based memories.

That was the Australian String Quartet, 2012 variety and their first concert for the year. As I left the concert hall, and walked past the Arts Centre underground car-park, I must admit to a wishful thought  in wishing I had my car with me, meaning I would have been home an hour earlier than walking into the city and then waiting for the 10.15 train to Sunbury. Really however, I didn’t mind, I was these days avoiding the hazzle, of driving into the city during peak hours, and the subsequent expense associated with both that, and the parking! A worthwhile option!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: