Thursday, 31 March 2016

April Gig Guide



 Welcome to April and post-Easter recovery! 

It seems to be a fairly quiet month. The WA Symphony Orchestra will launch the month with Mahler's Resurrection Symphony on April 1st and 2nd, a fitting end to the Easter season. Asher Fisch is conducting and I expect it will be spectacular. WASO will also perform Mendelssohn's popular Violin Concerto performed by new concert master Laurence Jackson. Reports from the musicians are that he is a delightful guy, quietly spoken but much respected. And if his cameo solo in Thus Spake Zarathustra was anything to go by he has a gorgeous sound and a bit of dramatic flair which will be perfect for Mendelssohn.

WASO also feature in what is my highlight for the month, the WA Opera's performance of The Riders. The opera is based on the novel by Tim Winton with music composed by (ex-Perth) Iain Grandage and starring soprano Emma Pearson (also ex-Perth). So it is going to be a local fiesta!

On Wednesday 6th at St George’s Cathedral Mark Coughlan will perform Grieg's Piano Concerto and Louise McKay will be soloist in Elgar's cello concerto. On Friday 8th the Indian Ocean Chamber Ensemble - WAAPA’s answer to Ensemble Vagabond? –  are debuting at the WA Academy of Performing Arts. They will perform Claude Bolling’s Suite for violin and jazz piano (Alex da Costa and Graham Wood), Michael Dogherty’s Dead Elvis (Natalya Czernicziw) and a bass clarinet (Philip Everall) work by Osvaldo Golijov.

Sunday 10th violinist Ronald Thomas and pianist David Wickham will perform Beethoven’s complete sonatas as the first of a three part series at Perth Town Hall which will be continued on April 17th and May 1st. On Sunday 17th the University of Western Australia Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mark Coughlan) will performs Strauss favourites at Government House Ballroom.  

The month closes with the ever-versatile WASO , this time performing with the hip hop group Hilltop Hoods at Perth Arena!

If have missed something please let me know... otherwise happy concert going!


Friday, 25 March 2016

Decibel Goes French



CONCERT
WA Academy of Performing Arts
Decibel ensemble
Review: Rosalind Appleby
3 stars
March 2016

Decibel ensemble laid down the challenge to French (predominantly) electronic composers to create music for acoustic instruments. The result was a concert of essentially acoustic music informed by electronic ideas.



OCCAM OCEAN HEXA II co-written by Eliane Radigue and Carol Robinson was premiered by Decibel last year. I can see why the group chose to give the work another outing. It is a subtle, gentle and intense work which opens inaudibly – the occasional scratching from a cello bow scratching across a string tailpiece. As the volume gradually increased the performers (cello, percussion, viola, flute and clarinet) used alternative fingerings to mis-pitch notes making clouds of overtones that hummed, hovered and moved incrementally, without any electronic effects. It was both soothing and unsettling; an incredibly simple concept and a completely otherworldly experience.

Two works by Lionel Marchetti explored the interactions between a performer and a loudspeaker.  In Une serie de reflets a clarinet note was heard through a speaker and echoed by the live clarinettist, the sounds blending into a drone. The same idea was applied to harmonica, bass flute and various other instruments. The performers swapped instruments based on directions from Iphones but otherwise they improvised their interactions without a score. The electronic sounds grew increasingly dark and a low string drone became the foundation for a piece of immense musical architecture that included a percussive tapping from the piano while flute and clarinet wove micro sounds above. The resulting hymn-like scaffolding seemed simultaneously fluid and stationary. A stunning world premiere of a work that deserves to become a signature Decibel piece.

Marchetti’s Premiere etude (les ombres), first performed by Decibel in 2012, felt a little gimmicky following on from this. The work was built around intentionally imperfect imitation creating a discordant duet between the instrumentalist and the loudspeaker. The sounds were birdlike, mechanical and often unsubtle. For some reason the simplicity of the idea didn’t translate to a significant aural experience, despite the efforts of the ever-professional Decibel ensemble.


This review copyright The West Australian 2016.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Simon Tedeschi at WAAPA

I'm not sure if I want to meet Simon Tedeschi. He has had some harsh words to say about critics (although he's happy enough to quote positive press on his website!).

 Here he is writing in Limelight magazine:

"Some (critics) are rancorous oddballs, sleeping soundly through a concert but still able to write with remarkable acuity as if they had actually been there. Others are stuck in a strange academic funk-hole, writing as if afflicted with nasty sniffles at birth that they can never quite shake off. Yet others come from an impoverished musicological background, and usually have a pre-set yardstick everything is compared to.
Less commonly, there is a critic whose head and heart are in unison, armed with a critical facility that is instructive and direct, yet never postured or mirror-gazing."
Some are rancorous oddballs, sleeping soundly through a concert but still able to write with remarkable acuity as if they had actually been there. Others are stuck in a strange academic funk-hole, writing as if afflicted with nasty sniffles at birth that they can never quite shake off. Yet others come from an impoverished musicological background, and usually have a pre-set yardstick everything is compared to.
Less commonly, there is a critic whose head and heart are in unison, armed with a critical facility that is instructive and direct, yet never postured or mirror-gazing.
- See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/300757,simon-tedeschi-pans-the-critics.aspx#sthash.pM937YIm.dpuf
Some are rancorous oddballs, sleeping soundly through a concert but still able to write with remarkable acuity as if they had actually been there. Others are stuck in a strange academic funk-hole, writing as if afflicted with nasty sniffles at birth that they can never quite shake off. Yet others come from an impoverished musicological background, and usually have a pre-set yardstick everything is compared to.
Less commonly, there is a critic whose head and heart are in unison, armed with a critical facility that is instructive and direct, yet never postured or mirror-gazing.
- See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/300757,simon-tedeschi-pans-the-critics.aspx#sthash.pM937YIm.dpuf
Some are rancorous oddballs, sleeping soundly through a concert but still able to write with remarkable acuity as if they had actually been there. Others are stuck in a strange academic funk-hole, writing as if afflicted with nasty sniffles at birth that they can never quite shake off. Yet others come from an impoverished musicological background, and usually have a pre-set yardstick everything is compared to.
Less commonly, there is a critic whose head and heart are in unison, armed with a critical facility that is instructive and direct, yet never postured or mirror-gazing.
- See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/300757,simon-tedeschi-pans-the-critics.aspx#sthash.pM937YIm.dpuf
Some are rancorous oddballs, sleeping soundly through a concert but still able to write with remarkable acuity as if they had actually been there. Others are stuck in a strange academic funk-hole, writing as if afflicted with nasty sniffles at birth that they can never quite shake off. Yet others come from an impoverished musicological background, and usually have a pre-set yardstick everything is compared to.
Less commonly, there is a critic whose head and heart are in unison, armed with a critical facility that is instructive and direct, yet never postured or mirror-gazing.
- See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/300757,simon-tedeschi-pans-the-critics.aspx#sthash.pM937YIm.dpuf"

Tedeschi is one of Australia's most acclaimed and opinionated pianists. So it was with a little trepidation and some excitement that I attended his concert on Tuesday night. Read my review below to find out what happened!






Simon Tedeschi has been quoted in the press saying that in this cultural dark age an artist must do more than art. In his first of two sold-out recitals at the WA Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday night he demonstrated what this might look like.

Firstly he engaged with the audience –a no brainer perhaps, but the ability to make genuine eye contact and engage in sincere, witty conversation is a definite skill. Secondly the extra-musical theme to his Gershwin and Me program (drawn from Tedeschi’s chart-topping Gershwin albums) meant he took the audience on a journey. The concert opened with the first rag Gershwin wrote and included his greatest hits alongside works by his contemporaries.

The classical fraternity have struggled with what to do with Gershwin – is he a classical or jazz composer, profound or populist? Tedeschi skipped over that debate and played the heart and soul out of the music. He navigated Gershwin’s rapid gear changes in a way that felt dramatic rather than frantic and - without appearing affected - made every note appear genuinely personal.

Arrangements by Percy Grainger of Gershwin’s Love Walked In was played with spacious tenderness while the madcap extremes of Grainger’s own In Dahomey were delivered with flamboyance. Gershwin’s Three Preludes bristled with technical confidence and the bluesy second Prelude contained a hushed intimate improvisation. These were heard alongside three piano roll transcriptions Lady Be Good, ‘S Wonderful and Strike Up the Band where Tedeschi’s light touch and noisy stride bass line created a fabulous honky tonk sound.

In jazz numbers by Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson Tedeschi demonstrated his ability to spin blues–drenched improvisations alongside the best jazz pianist.

A performance of the iconic Rhapsody in Blue with lingering silences, achingly sweet melodies and brash climaxes concluded a program that was a fascinating insight into both Gershwin and Tedeschi. Sadly there were no European counterparts; works by Rachmaninov and Debussy advertised on the program didn’t make it to the stage. Other than that when it comes to piano recitals I couldn’t ask for anything more!

This review copyright The West Australian 2016.