Review / A burst of Baroque’s fascinating rhythms

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The Sydney Consort. Photo by Rob Kennedy
IF George and Ira Gershwin were alive in the Baroque period, they’d have been writing about the fascinating rhythms of Mediterranean Baroque Music.

Some music is defined by the origins of its region, the baroque music programmed for this concert highlighted this. We heard lively, rhythmical and playful works from 15 different composers. Some of the instruments played were almost as old as the music itself; from around the 1770s.

The four players from the Sydney Consort were Hans-Dieter Michatz, recorder; Stan W. Kornel, baroque violin; Verna Lee, harp and Monika Kornel, harpsichord. But, this ensemble can consist of up to 15 performers. On the day, they created a wonderfully refined sound.

A lively, bright work titled “Canarios”, by Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710), began the concert. A few works into the recital we heard the challenging “Fandango” for solo harpsichord by Domenico Scarlatti. Its rhythmical contrasts were handled with aplomb by Monika Kornel.

Hearing this sort of music live can transport the listener to another time and place. It was easy to imagine the courts, the halls and the private homes that housed this ornamental style of music.

The performers had a range of instruments on hand. Six types of recorders, two harps, a violin and a harpsichord. Blended together, or used in pairs such as a recorder and a harp, they can mirror one another, or create subtle timbres setting each other apart, which produces a unique aural expression.

Several pieces followed by known composers, such as Pergolesi, then we were given an unprogrammed delight. A work to remember the 25th anniversary of the death of the composer, bandoneon player and tango master, Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). His composition “Café 1930” with its luscious, romantic and deeply seductive sounds changed the mood of the concert.

Piazzolla’s trademark tempo and dynamic shifts (even in just one bar) were on full display. As it was played by Monika and Stan W. Kornel, your heart slipped as the violin sensuously slid into its next note. An obvious favourite work of the pair as Stan kissed Monika’s hand at the end.

Baroque music of the time, was being composed in other places outside its traditional home of Europe. The Turkish composer, Tanburi Mustafa Cavus (1700-1770) known for his “art music”, hit us with his dynamic rhythms and changing colour towards the end of the concert. The audience felt the difference in this piece and responded with hearty applause.

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  1. A lovely review! Although I would have liked there to be a mention of the venue, Wesley Music Centre, especially as Monika and the Sydney Consort regularly Choose our unique Music Room for their concerts in Canberra. The next one is actually booked in to the Wesley church but the following two are back in the Music room. Sunday, 28 May @ 3PM (CHURCH); Sunday, 1 October @ 3PM (WMC) & Sunday, 12 November @ 3PM (WMC)

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