Australian Chamber Orchestra: Bach – Traditional Melbourne

What a household! The Australian Chamber Orchestra gave us a style of the musical genius that touched so many members of the prolonged Bach household in a program comprising a mix of acquainted mainstream repertoire and works which might be hardly ever performed. Two works from composers impressed by Johann Sebastian and one other by Johann Christian accomplished a surprisingly numerous choice of objects.

Earlier than the live performance correct was appropriately launched with an Overture from Johann Ludwig’s Suite in G main, Inventive Director and Violin maestro, Richard Tognetti, introduced that the featured singer, mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley, was “on her strategy to being effectively” however not effectively sufficient to carry out on this live performance. Disappointment turned to reduction as we realized that the famend baritone, David Greco, would take her place. Within the occasion, he didn’t sing the fourth programmed vocal work, an aria from Johann Christoph Friedrich’s Die Amerikanerin – a pity, since he and we’d have loved the dramatic excerpt from this transient secular cantata with its lurid plot.

Not that anyone may actually complain after listening to Greco’s extraordinary interpretation of the Chaconne from Johann Christoph’s Meine Freundin, du bist schön. Based mostly on the Tune of Songs, it’s from the perspective of a lady enthusiastic about the delights of being along with her lover and includes an excessive amount of repetition of the phrase “Mein Freund ist mein und ich bin sein”. Greco embraced the sentiment with gusto, operatic in his strategy and lavish in his ornamentation. He discovered a keen virtuosic accomplice in Satu Vänskä, whose sensible violin obbligato added to the electrifying power of this efficiency.

Following onerous on its heels got here the aria “Widerstehe doch der Sünde” (Stand agency towards sin) from Johann Sebastian’s Cantata of the identical title – apparently his earliest surviving cantata for solo voice. Starting with a dissonant chord and persevering with with an insistent bass pulse with vigorous string assault, Greco virtually spoke a number of the exhortation, humorously difficult the viewers with a figuring out smile.

Within the second work after interval, Greco’s singing of “Schlummert ein, Ihr matten Augen” (Sleep, my weary eyes) from JS Bach’s Cantata Ich habe genug, BWV82 was way more critical in character. Soothing strings shaped a delicate cushion for Greco’s heat, wealthy tone – resonant and effectively projected even in lengthy, very quiet phrases. His vary – even with ease on the highest notes and power on the low notes – coupled with a most interesting timbre allowed his expressiveness and musicality to shine.

A particular environment had been created earlier as he stood in darkness whereas behind him, illuminated by chilly, stark shafts of sunshine, the orchestra performed Sofia Gubaidulina’s Reflections on the theme BACH in an association for strings. Her homage to JS Bach displays on the BACH notice motif after which provides materials from The Artwork of Fugue. It’s completely totally different in character from the excerpt from No. 6 of Schumann’s Six Fugues on B-A-C-H, which was performed within the first half of this system. Whereas the Schumann attracts on Bach’s musical fashion for the double fugue of this quantity, Gubaidulina’s language is summary. Fragments of sound regularly emerged from the shadows. Snatches of extra tuneful cello passages, repeated collection of upward slides, sparse whispers of violin and violas, a shimmering solo violin fragment and plucked strings cohered right into a slowly evolving meditation – mysterious and mystical. The lights pale to black, then, after a brief pause, the stage was bathed in heat mild for the Cantata.

Maybe the main attraction of this system was JS Bach’s much-loved Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV1043, with Tognetti and Helena Rathbone enjoying two excellent examples of the luthier’s craft – a Guarneri and a Stradivarius, respectively; totally different makers, however within the palms of those two violinists exceptionally complementary. As is customary these days the primary motion started at a spanking tempo and even the second motion Largo ma non tanto appeared to be over all too quickly though the instruction of “non tanto” (not an excessive amount of) suggests Romantic wallowing ought to be prevented. However the gloriously entwining strains, with full decrease notes and candy higher notes from the 2 violins have been such a pleasure that it was onerous to not want for somewhat extra lingering.

To conclude the abbreviated second half of this system, the Andante motion from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A serious was adopted by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Cello Concerto in A serious – each splendid alternatives to showcase the skills of the ACO musicians. Mozart was a fervent admirer of Johann Christian Bach and paid particular tribute to him when he learnt of his loss of life in 1782. Lengthy unaccompanied passages and the superb acoustic of the Elisabeth Murdoch Corridor meant that Erin Helyard’s fortepiano was clearly audible. Having carried out on harpsichord for a lot of earlier items, it was a welcome alternative to listen to his ability and artistry delivered to prominence on this piece.

Timo-Veikko Valve was impressively virtuosic within the cello concerto. After a rousing introduction and florid passages at lightning pace as orchestra and soloist interacted in a energetic dialog within the first motion, the second motion not solely caused a change of tempo however an odd acoustic phenomenon as muted strings assumed a haunting horn-like timbre. The jollity of the ultimate motion appeared virtually impolite in distinction. But it surely was an appropriately light-hearted strategy to finish the live performance and was in step with the great foot-stamping fencing of the Sonata à 5 by Heinrich Bach close to the start of this system. It mirrored two of the ACO’s dominant options: virtuosity and enthusiasm.

Picture provided.


Heather Leviston reviewed “Bach”, carried out by the Australian Chamber Orchestra on the Melbourne Recital Centre, Elisabeth Murdoch Corridor on June 17, 2022.