Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

It was a night of firsts at the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s “The Harpist – Xavier de Maistre” concert at Sydney’s City Recital Hall.

Xavier de Maistre in action with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra at Sydney’s City Recital Hall.*

The concert heralded the first Australian performance by French harpist extraordinaire Xavier De Maistre. It was also the first time the orchestra had performed French impressionist Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte.

While the audience clearly appreciated the orchestra’s performance of this piece, together with Mozart’s Symphony No. 20 in D Major and C.P.E. Bach’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major, it was De Maistre who won their hearts.

After first performing with the orchestra in Boieldieu’s Harp Concerto in C Major, you could sense a standing ovation was brewing.  But enthusiastic concert goers managed to hold off until after his encore piece!

Xavier de Maistre showcasing his sublime skills.*
Xavier de Maistre showcasing his sublime skills.*

Watching De Maistre in action, it was easy to see why he is one of the world’s most sought-after soloists.

He has a great on stage charisma, while to the untrained eye his technical skills seem sublime -although I must admit I am not an expert on harpists!  At times he played with flamboyance and flair and at other times with great finesse.  His facial expressions and body language suggested great enthusiasm, feeling and connection with the music.

As he illustrated while tuning his harp between pieces, he also has a sense of humour. “I spend half my time tuning and the other half playing out of tune,” he joked with the audience.

Of the four solo pieces he performed, Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra  and  Vltava’s (The Moldau) from Má vlast were my favourites.  It’s easy to understand why the latter is regarded as one his signature pieces.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in action.
The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in action.*

One of the joys of attending any Australian Brandenburg Orchestra performance is watching and listening to its artistic director, Paul Dyer thanks to his enthusiasm. In introducing this concert he told the audience he was `super excited’. After listening to De Maistre and the orchestra it was easy to understand why!

Performances of The Harpist are scheduled at Sydney’s City Recital Hall on May 5 , 9 and 11, at Melbourne’s Recital Centre on May 12 and 13 and at Brisbane’s QPAC on May 15.  Visit the Australian Brandenburg website for more information.

Jenny Burns attended the opening night of The Harpist on May 2 as a guest of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

*Photo credit: Steven Godbee.

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