Revolutionary music takes over Canberra

The revolution begins

Revolutionary music takes over Canberra. Concert number two of the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF), opened with the “Trio in E-flat Major”, KV 498 by Mozart.  It begins with a playful theme performed by Lisa Moore on piano and Florian Peelman on viola. Then, the clarinettist, Orit Orbach brought out the flowing melodies of the Andante in the first movement.

Revolutionary music takes over Canberra
Photo by Peter Hislop

A more complicated second movement had each player sharing the spotlight. The Rondeaux: Allegretto third movement integrated with complexity and volume had the near capacity audience applauding warmly.

Shostakovich stands out

The vast difference between the Mozart and the “Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor”, op. 40 by Shostakovich which followed, was of course, evident. But, at times it was hard to hear the cello played by David Pereira due to the nature of the acoustics of the Fitter’s Workshop. After a short while, your ears could pick it out.

This moody piece, full of variation in tone colour, especially in the first movement, ends with the piano talking quietly as the cello slowly fades away.  The expressive second movement added greater tone colour through the use of the thumbnail sliding up and down the strings of the cello.

The sombre Largo of the third movement opens with a song sung to perfection on the cello by Pereira. Here the cello cut through the hall. Lisa more on piano, concentrates, plays and most importantly performs with an intensity which clearly shows she loves what she does. Her body movement adds so much to the sound of her music.

Can music be a “radical risk”?

Revolutionary music takes over Canberra
Photo of Frank Nuyts (in green shirt) by Peter Hislop

Belgian composer Frank Nuyts, who was there on the day, offered us the world premiere of his “Piano Sonata No. 20”, titled “Radical Risk” or “La Cucaracha”. From its jazz-like opening, it soon blends into a more contemporary mood of music. Throughout the whole work, there is this staccato touch that gives the piece its character.

The sonata played by the Artistic Director of the CIMF, Roland Peelman,  was performed with great forthrightness and sensitivity, as he does with most things. It flowed with the sound of a contemporary Gershwin like piece.

The staccato style didn’t let up in the second movement, and there were poignant effects used throughout. The third movement opens with a pleasing rapid fortissimo, then soon jumps to an upbeat almost dancehall tune.

The beauty in this sonata is the blending of many varying styles. Even the well-known “La Cucaracha” which we found out in the pre-concert talk is about a cockroach with a missing leg, was full of his changing style of, well, everything.

A romantic ending

Revolutionary music takes over Canberra
Photo by Peter Hislop

The profound opening in the first of the “Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok”, op. 127 (1967), written by Shostakovich for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution was startling and gorgeously sung by soprano Louise Page accompanied by Roland Peerlman on piano.

The third song, “Our Being Together” was performed like a romance between James Wannan on violin and the soprano. Over the seven songs, the piano, violin, cello and soprano gave their best in this attention grabbing and inventive music.

This review first appeared in CityNews

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