Review / Wonderful music to there and Bach

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Photo by Peter Hislop
THIS was a day full of Bach’s music from Austral Harmony, a double reed ensemble class, two concerts and enough information on early music to fill the desires of any Bach-lover.Oboist Jane Downer, who had performed the night before with Salut! Baroque, was up early getting set up for a class in double-reed instruments. Downer began the day by introducing the audience to a range of interestingly named and shaped Oboes. On hand where about a dozen instruments, including the Baroque oboe, the Oboe d’amore and the Oboe da Caccia.Downer talked about the history and function of the oboe as she introduced each instrument and how it fitted in with the developing orchestra. Peter Maddigan, also an oboist and with much knowledge on his instrument spoke about some technicalities of these oboes, and then both players performed an Aria by Bach on the Oboe da Caccia. It has a mellower and deeper sound than today’s normal orchestral oboe.

After a short break, Chayla Ueckert-Smith who recently won the Canberra Youth Orchestra 2017 Concerto Competition, who is also an oboe teacher was there with one of her students, Olivia Wang from Radford College and they played sections from Bach’s Chorales under the direction of Downer and Maddigan.

With a Q&A between the audience and the performers, demonstrations on these unique instruments, which were passed around to members of the audience and the unique insights into the history and workings of the oboe, made for an informative morning session.

David Macfarlane performed the organ recital in the Wesley Uniting Church. There were five pieces by Bach and one from Vivaldi, which was arranged by Bach. It began with Bach’s big “Prelude and Fugue in B minor”. As the voluminous sound filled the church and shook the pews, Bach’s rich and dense music showed just how well he wrote for the king of instruments, the organ.

Macfarlane’s playing is exceptional. He almost never looks at the keyboard. The many, many notes in this Prelude and Fugue were played with a well-practised precision. The order in Bach’s music brings so much pleasure to people, and its reach is far beyond any mathematical exactness.

After lunch, the last session of the day was titled, “Musicalischer Circul”, which was music played by Bach’s inner circle of contemporaries, pupils and even copyists. The music was from Bach, J D Heinichen, J F Fasch and J P Kirnberger, with Downer and Maddigan on Oboes and Macfarlane on harpsichord.

The first piece by Bach a “Trio in G minor”, flowed with a subtle unison on oboes over its one movement. The playing on these Baroque instruments can at times be a bit squeaky, it’s the nature of the instrument, but the unique expression that they are capable of in the hands of such fine players is unquestionably good.

It was a fascinating day of music and musical knowledge, which was well catered and and run flawlessly by a dedicated group of volunteers.

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