Monday, 18 November 2013

Sol Gabetta and WASO

Sol Gabetta gives me hope. The young Argentinian-born cellist is the kind of artist who will keep the classical music industry alive. Her performance of Dvorak’s B minor Cello Concerto with the WA Symphony Orchestra was utterly heart-felt and spiced with a good dose of risk taking.


On Friday night (November 15th)  the orchestra established the emotional goal posts of Dvorak’s concerto with an introduction that was both delicate (horn and clarinet solos) and energetic (a perky string statement). Gabetta joined in with exuberance, showcasing a bright cello sound with a knotty low register. Her technique was formidable but the edge-of-the-seat moments weren’t the cascades of notes, rather the engrossing moods of the quieter moments. There was the pensive duet with wispy flute and lingering cello entwined, the yearning intensity of Dvorak’s melodies, and the introverted delicacy of the cello’s final moments before the orchestra charged in with a rousing end. Gabetta's artistry took the audience on a profound journey.

Polish conductor Michal Dworzynski was a conscientious time keeper but his lack of sculptural finesse became apparent in Brahms’ Second Symphony. The first movement had bombast thanks to a warmly romantic brass section but – crucially – no space to breath between the long winding phrases. Dworzynski’s slow tempo for the second movement might have allowed for more shaping but instead the movement wandered aimlessly. The finale suffered from lack of delineation and Brahms’ luxurious layers became suffocating.

The concert opened with Smetana’s Vltava (Ma Vlast) which had a gracious start but the slow tempo meant Smetana’s mighty river became sluggish. Bookended by these two perfunctory performances, Sol Gabetta shone like a dazzling star.

This review copyright The West Australian 2013.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Radio Portraits of Australian Composers

When was the last time you were introduced to a composer?

ABC Classic FM is presenting 29 of Australia's more prominent composers and their music in a three day Composer Portraits series. The series begins today (Friday 15th Nov). It's a great concept and I'm hoping by Monday everyone will be whistling music by George Dreyfus or Elena Kats-Chernin!

Five of the composers in Women of Note are featured in the line-up: Margaret Sutherland, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Miriam Hyde, Elena Kats-Chernin and Mary Finsterer.

But where are the rest?

25% of our composers are women, yet only 5 of the 29 composers presented here are women. It is difficult to select a representative group when we have so many wonderful composers, but 17% is hardly a fair sample.

What about Liza Lim, Ann Carr-Boyd, Betty Beath, Moya Henderson? Poor form ABC!

Here is the ABC's list of composers.

For a more definitive list of our composers (and LOADS of music samples) go to the Australian Music Centre Website. You could create your own list of 29 of our legendary composers. Who would you choose?