AS the Artists’ Society of Canberra celebrates 90 years of operation it’s a particularly good year for long-time president, Alan J Jones, who has been announced as winner of Best in Show for his oil […]
DIRECTED by well-known Canberra musician Robyn Mellor, the recently formed recorder ensemble played its first concert, and it was a beauty. The music came from the medieval period to the 20th century.
The Leske sisters, Elana and Shae, who recently moved to Canberra, along with Olivia Gossip and Robyn Mellor who make up Block Sounds, crafted a unique concert of music composed and arranged for recorder ensemble.
They began with a short and calming work titled “Pari intervallao”, by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. This piece showed how the natural reverberations and sound quality of a church are most suitable for these instruments.
“Sonata VI in C minor”, by a French composer of the Baroque period, Joseph Bodin De Boismortier came next, and it has some delightful tunes, especially for the bass recorder. The group played with an evenness of tone, so much so that you could make out the sound quality of each of the four recorders. They produced the richest of sonorities in this charming Baroque piece.
Incorporating Japanese scales and folk songs, the three-movement work by Yasuji Kiyose, titled “Recorder Quartet”, offered a variety of styles and tone colours. This work explored the highs and lows of the recorders and had many varying combinations of the instruments, and the beauty of its composition flowed through the proficiency of this new ensemble.
Nick Horn, of Walking the Dog recorder ensemble, on his Great and Contrabass recorders joined the group for two short works by Spanish composer Diego Ortiz. These extra-deep, bass instruments filled the space; the deep tones of these instruments can be felt in the body. The small descant recorder that led through these counterpoint-filled works, together with the other instruments created a resoundingly fine work.
The German composer and recorder player Sorin Sieg has created a driving and passionate work with his “Afrikanische Suite No 3”. The three movements of this suite were a snapshot of community life in an African village. Some of the pieces were danceable and one, “Goodbye”, which played on the rhythm of that word had a sad, but not a morbid quality, more like a farewell. The group handled this very well, producing a realistic African musical sound sensation.
The final work titled “Report on ‘When shall the sun shine?’”, by Paul Leenhouts, a Dutch recorder player and composer was a comical joy. It began with the players breathing into their instruments to create a rhythmical pattern. The music reminded me of Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk”, such was its comedic effect. The piece had singing, spoken word and a multitude of percussive effects that the players had to create – an exuberant final piece.
I’m sure Block Sounds will go on to create even more interesting and varied concerts. This was an excellent start from them.