Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

Melbourne’s Recital Centre stage came alive with personality, energy, charisma and beautiful music as Lixsania Fernandez and The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra joined forces to present Lixsania and the Labyrinth.

Anthea Cottee (left), Lixsania Fernandez, Paul Dyer and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.
Anthea Cottee (left), Lixsania Fernandez, Paul Dyer and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra presenting Lixsania and the Labyrinth.*

Paul Dyer, the ever-enthusiastic ABO conductor and artistic director, was even more upbeat than usual thanks in part to his absolute admiration of Fernandez and the instrument she plays – the viola da gamba.

As he explained to the audience, when he first saw Fernandez at a music festival in France several years ago, he was captivated by her musical abilities together with her grace, vibrancy and radiance.

Lixsania Fernandez and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.*

Watching and hearing Fernandez join with the orchestra to present Corelli, Scarlatti, Marais and Vivaldi’s Folia pasticcio, Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 violins and viola da gamba and Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro, Graun’s Concerto for Viola da Gamba in G Major,  (an Australian premiere) and Duchiffre’s Tango from Concerto for 2 Violas da Gamba, it was easy to see why.  Her skill, personality and stage presence were captivating.  An encore piece, a Cuban lullaby, highlighted Fernandez’ vocal abilities.

Adding to Dyer’s enthusiasm was his obvious interest in the viola da gamba. His chat with the audience included information about the six or seven string instrument with frets, which was one of the most popular instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Shaun Lee-Chen(left) and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.
Shaun Lee-Chen and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.*

Then there was the performance of the orchestra’s concertmaster, Shaun Lee-Chen, in presenting Locatelli’s Violin Concerto in D ‘Il laberinto armonico’. The smiles from the other orchestra members on stage suggested Dyer and the audience weren’t alone in their appreciation of his presentation of this most challenging work.  There was similar joy with the performance of Anthea Cottee who joined Fernadez and the orchestra to present Duchiffre’s Tango.

And finally there was the music.  If any program was perfectly designed for Dyer to show his energy and skills on the harpsichord this was it!  This was especially true with the tango but was evident throughout the evening.

Lixsania Fernandez and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.
Lixsania Fernandez and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.*

As my companion commented: “Dyer made the concert so much fun, he is such an entertainer.” It was the entertainment component, together with the music, which ensured Lixsania and the Labyrinth was so vibrant and enjoyable.

Jenny Burns attended Lixsania and the Labyrinth as a guest of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

*Photo credit: Steven Godbee

While there are no more concerts in this series, a recording of Lixsania and the Labyrinth can be heard on ABC Classic FM on Sunday November 18 at noon.

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