Omega Ensemble: Continuum – Basic Melbourne

Omega Ensemble has carried out it once more! In February, the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Primrose Potter Salon reverberated to the sound of William Barton’s didgeridoo as a part of their “Two Breaths” program, leaving the viewers nearly breathless with admiration for his virtuosic abilities and the inventive creativeness of his composition Reward – Our Breath of Life. This time, the outstanding artistry of one other Indigenous Australian left us in a lot the identical state as Dr Lou Bennett wove her magic with nyernur, nyakur – to listen to, to see, featured of their “Continuum” program.

Bennett may not be as acquainted as Barton to classical music audiences, however she is definitely making her mark. Listeners who had attended the Australian String Quartet’s live performance within the Elisabeth Murdoch Corridor two nights beforehand could effectively have skilled an sudden sense of continuity as Bennett has labored intently with this quartet in collaboration with Ian Grandage, whom she acknowledges for his “elegant contributions” within the “Continuum” program notes. On Thursday night time, we had the large privilege of watching her carry out in individual quite than listening to the pre-recorded model utilized in earlier performances of her work. This entire live performance was being recorded for broadcast on ABC radio, but when ever there was a persuasive argument for attending live shows in individual, this was it – particularly as her efficiency defies ample description.

The taped (by Bennett) sound of hen calls may very well be heard as clarinetist David Rowden, violinist Alexandra Osborne, cellist Paul Stender and pianist Vatche Jambazian took their locations. Clothed in a black garment with a white round design, a white half-mask define painted on her face, Bennett adopted to perch on a stool within the center behind a microphone. The piece started with a sluggish, darkish cello line joined by the voice in nearly elegiac temper. Anguished cries got here from the violin then a softly brooding clarinet soared into an outburst evocative of klezmer emotional impact. As voice and devices wove collectively and devices performed alone in varied combos of trios and duets – violin and cello in a quasi tango dance of tears at one level – Bennett circled her fingers as she sang with heat depth of tone and listened. Typically she swayed barely, smiling gently as she undulated and fluttered her fingers as an expressive extension of the inside impulse – by no means extravagant, all the time with a sort of genuine modesty. There was a connection obvious with the work that started the live performance: Arvo Pärt’s lean, meditative Spiegel im Spiegel and what he mentioned about it: “Similar to the composer has to cut back his ego when writing the music, the musician too should put his ego apart when performing the piece”. This gave the impression to be precisely what Lou Bennett had carried out. On the finish of the efficiency, she closed her eyes, bowed her head and listened to the hen calls that had begun the piece and had been a supply of inspiration.

As a Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung composer, Bennett’s music is deeply related to Indigenous language retrieval, reclamation and regeneration. This system notes gave no translation of language aside from the title – nevertheless it didn’t matter. The work was intensely shifting and introduced many listeners to their toes within the extended ovation that adopted this extraordinary efficiency – grateful that Omega Ensemble had commissioned this work.

Many members of the capability viewers would have been drawn to this live performance by Olivier Messiaen’s iconic work Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the top of Time). Even with out figuring out the legendary circumstances of its composition in a Silesian prisoner-of-war camp throughout 1940-41, this work is one which transfixes. The Ebook of Revelations offered the title for the eight-movement masterpiece because the angel decrees “There shall be time now not”. Varied combos of devices come to the fore as moods change from swirling vitality to long-breathed calm. The opening motion, for all 4 devices, offered the right transition from Bennett’s work because the solo clarinet imitated a blackbird’s music and the violin a nightingale’s. Rowden’s clarinet was supremely well-controlled on this and within the exacting clarinet solo Abîme des Oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds). As along with his heat honeyed tones within the Pärt, Stender excelled within the heat flowing strains of a lot of the Messiaen, most notably what the composer referred to as the “infinitely sluggish” cello a part of the fifth motion. Some superbly textured decrease notes had been heard from the violin, significantly within the remaining motion. It was on this motion {that a} sense of ensemble was most clearly evident and added considerably to its influence. The piano had been stridently metallic for a number of the loudest higher notes within the Pärt, however in even probably the most vigorous passages of the Messiaen, Jambazian was at one with the tonal cloth.

One other enthusiastic ovation greeted what was a memorable efficiency by Omega Ensemble. Whereas the Salon has the benefit of being an intimate area, it was a pity extra individuals couldn’t be fitted in to take pleasure in it.

Picture courtesy Omega Ensemble.


Heather Leviston reviewed “Continuum”, carried out by Omega Ensemble and Dr Lou Bennett within the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Primrose Potter Salon on April 28, 2022.


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