Stopping at Sydney the Australian World Orchestra plays Beethoven and Dvořák in a series of concerts in this national tour.
Australian World Orchestra, image via AWO.
It’s an inescapable fact that many of our most talented musicians must accept posts overseas to further their careers. Without the Australian World Orchestra, local audiences would rarely get a chance to see and hear these musicians on stage. Now the AWO ‘brings them home’ to play carefully curated recital programs around the country.
Chamber 8 on Tour brings together Matthew McDonald on double bass and David Berlin on cello, Daniel Dodds and Natalie Chee on violin with Tahlia Petrosian on Viola, Andrew Bain on horn, with Paul Dean on clarinet and Lyndon Watts on bassoon. Between them, they are currently playing in orchestras around the world.
This recital begins with Beethoven’s remarkable Septet in E Flat Major, a work that is still regarded by many as the greatest septet ever written. Composed in 1799 and first performed in Vienna in 1800, the work gained immediately popularity and was often rearranged to suit trios or quartets as well as the original septet.
The work opens with an elegant adagio played ‘with vigour’ that sets the tone for the following five movements. There is a sustained dialogue throughout the work between the strings, seated on one side of the double bass, and the winds on the opposite side. And there is never really a dull moment, with the many changes of texture and style. Each instrument gets its moment in the spotlight, but this septet really belongs to the clarinet and Paul Dean made the most of every moment, almost leaping from his seat with enthusiasm.
After the break, the AWO’s artistic director Alexander Briger came on stage briefly to introduce cellist Peter Morrison and three young students who gave us a very enjoyable few minutes of Mozart’s Divertimento for String Quartet. The AWO runs an impressive education program teaching and mentoring young musicians.
Then it was back to business with Dvořák's String Quintet No 2, featuring two violins, viola, cello and double bass.This is a rich and luscious piece of chamber music with deep baselines and clear, full sound.
The first movement opens strongly and is played ‘with fire’, leading into a vivid scherzo for the second. The highlight is the stunning poco andante slow movement with its singing strings and heartbreaking tenderness. And then the finale lifts the spirits, and the tempo, for a thrilling finish.
Individually, each musician in this recital deserves applause, and they all worked seamlessly together. It is a delight to see musicians who are so accomplished, and so used to performing at a high level. There is no tension, no hesitation, just the sheer joy of making music.
This was a delightful concert and a fine example of eloquent musicianship. It is just a shame that the Recital Hall wasn’t filled to the rafters for the occasion.
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Australian World Orchestra Chamber 8
Beethoven Septet in E-flat major, Op.20
Dvořák String Quintet No.2, Op.77
Natalie Chee violin (1st Concertmaster SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart)
Daniel Dodds violin (Festival Strings Lucerne)
Tahlia Petrosian viola (Gewandhaus Leipzig)
David Berlin cello (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
Matthew McDonald double bass (Berlin Philharmonic)
Paul Dean clarinet (Senior Lecturer of Clarinet and Head of Woodwind at the Queensland Conservatorium)
Lyndon Watts bassoon (formerly Munich Philharmonic)
Andrew Bain horn (LA Philharmonic Orchestra)
City Recital Hall, Sydney 25 July 2017
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What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level