BACH AND TELEMANN
Soprano Alexandra Oomens, left, performs for Pinchgut Opera.Credit:Albert Comper
Pinchgut opera, City Recital Hall, April 7
PIANO EX MACHINA
Zubin Kanga, Conservatorium Music Workshop, April 13
Reviewed by Peter McCallum
Musically and dramatically, the boundaries between opera, cantata and oratorio were somewhat blurred in the Baroque era, the operas sometimes lacking dramatic trajectory, while the oratorios used choruses to create magnificent dramatic excitement.
It is all the more welcome then that Pinchgut Opera, founded in 2002 to present neglected Baroque operas, should turn their stylistic expertise to concert choral works with this performance of Telemann’s Thunder Ode, and Bach’s surprisingly neglected Easter Oratorio.
Conductor Erin Hellyard led the Sinfonia of Bach’s work with a tempo of spirited magnificence, allowing brilliance from the trumpets and a rich glowing sound from the period oboes and bassoons. Delicate transparency and balance of voice and woodwind, for example in the combination of Anna Dowsley’s richly coloured contralto with the warm-toned oboe d’amore aria in Saget, saget mir geschwinde, or the vocal duet with recorders, was a particular highlight.
Telemann’s work, written in commemoration of the calamitous Lisbon earthquake of 1755, was more overtly pictorial and also began with splendid vigour. Soprano Alexandra Oomens sang the aria Bringt her, Ihr helden with beautifully bright, finely-edged tone, while bases David Greco and Andrew O’Connor duelled with resonant, skilfully crafted trills at thirty paces in the duet Er donnert.
Tenor Richard Butler’s aria with trumpet obligato, Deines Namens, was a tour-de-force of skill from both. It was a performance which set a new concert standard for local period instrument groups.
Zubin Kanga’s entertaining show, Piano Ex Machina all but submerged his concert grand with computers, videos and devices both high tech and low (brooms, ropes and boxing gloves all played a part).
Alexander Schubert’sWiki-Piano.net requires the player to perform an internet score to which anyone can contribute their own ideas, clips and obsessions (one internet composer apparently finds the word ‘unless’ particularly meaningful).
Pinchgut Opera’s Bach and Telemann Concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre.Credit:Albert Comper
Jon Rose’s Ballast featured Kanga brandishing a motion-detecting ring with Gollum-like intensity. It opened with ascending and descending keyboard patterns which the computer rapidly multiplied into an aural landscape of Escher-like ladders going nowhere and everywhere. I found this work and the ominous vast sounds of Taking the Auspices by Ben Carey, who also managed the multi-media for the concert, the most musically involving.
Tristan Coelho’s Rhythm City was an inventive elaboration and distortion of rhythms from modern life, starting with the ignition sparks of a stove and extending to highways and runways. Kate Neal’s A Novel Instrument with video by Sal Cooper playfully turned a bookshelf into a keyboard while Kanga’s Transformations built up layers of sustained sounds and scattered textures sometimes cutting off just as the listener starts to engage.
Adam de la Cour’s Transplant the Movie 2! Operation ‘Re-Rise’ Dark Return cast the pianist as thriller and video-game hero with amusing undergraduate zaniness.
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