On Stage: Blazing Baroque

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Blazing Baroque concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre provided a winning combination of the old and new.

16ABO BlazingBaroque MELB opening-133

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in action.

Providing the ‘old’ component were several relatively unknown works from some of Baroque’s most important composers – Sammartini, Vivaldi, Telemann and Fasch. The  ABO musicians provided the ‘new’. As they demonstrated, the future of baroque music in Australia is in excellent hands thanks to their abilities. As is always the case with ABO performances, they were expressive and looked as if they were thoroughly enjoying playing the music.

Paul Dyer shows Melbourne audiences the The Helpmann for Best Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert won by ABO

Paul Dyer shows the Helpmann Award.

This was especially so of ABO artistic director and conductor Paul Dyer. Dyer was particularly buoyant when  explaining to the audience the orchestra had won the Helpmann Award for the Best Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert for last year’s French Baroque with Circa performance.
Unlike many other Brandenburg concerts, Blazing Baroque is an all Australian affair with no international performers invited along. In announcing the concert, Dyer stated that sometimes ABO audiences just want the Brandenburg.
“Our musicians’ unique flair, dynamic playing and exciting and challenging exploration of period music really make our musicians modern baroque stars,” he explained.

Shaun Lee-Chen and the ABO

Shaun Lee-Chen and the ABO

The reaction of the audience suggested his assumptions were correct.

An equally important component of the program was the music. Dyer chose to highlight some lesser known works. As he explained, there’s a great deal of `lost work’ out there as during the 18th century all audiences wanted to hear was `new music’. Given the huge amount of music that had to be produced, many pieces were only heard once and then lost. Gradually over the years more pieces have been discovered thanks to great detective works by musicologists.
Sammiritini’s overture for the opera Memet J-C 88 was `rediscovered’ in the Dresden State library in 2011, while Telemann’s Grand Concerto in D major was thought to have been destroyed during World War II, but was `discovered’ in a library in Kiev. This piece was one of the highlights of the evening, although the entire program was most enjoyable.

Flautist Melissa Farrow and recorder player Mikaela Oberg with other members of the ABO

Flautist Melissa Farrow and recorder player Mikaela Oberg with the ABO.

Soloist Shaun Lee-Chen was extremely enthusiastic and skilled in his presentation of Vivaldi’s Concerto for violin in D major. Equally impressive were flautist Melissa Farrow and recorder player Mikaela Oberg, performing Telemann’s double concerto in E minor.
However the joy of Blazing Baroque is it allows all members of the orchestra to show their great musical talents on period instruments of the eighteenth century.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is playing Blazing Baroque at the City Recital Centre on August 3 and 6 and at Brisbane Queensland Performing Arts Centre on August 8. For more information and tickets visit the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra website.

The ABC will be broadcasting the concern on Classic FM on 11 August at 1pm.

*Photos by Steven Godbee.

Jenny Burns attended Blazing Baroque in Melbourne on July 30 as a guest of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

 

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