Review / ‘Musical fireworks’ in hot Sunday concert

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Pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska. Photo by Steven Godbee

THE Canberra Symphony Orchestra is experimenting this year by having the featured soloists for each of its Llewellyn Series concerts present a solo recital the weekend before.

Pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska is performing “Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2″ in G minor with the orchestra later this week and recently presented an intriguing program in the Wesley Church on a hot Sunday afternoon. It would seem the concert was originally planned for the recital hall, but close to 200 people wanted tickets, so it was shifted into the main church hall.

The recital was in two sections. The first section paired six compositions by Eric Satie and Elena Kats-Chernin. The Satie works were from the “Gnossiennes”, composed in the early 1890s and matched to three from the suite by Kats-Chernin inspired by Satie’s eccentric life. Each of the paired pieces delightfully reflected the other in mood and tempo in a clever piece of programming. Kats-Chernin then joined Cislowska for an impromptu duet, which also charmed the audience.

The second part of the recital was three works by Franz Lizst – “Funerailles”, “Die Loreley” and the “Hungarian Rhapsody No.6”. “Funerailles” is a dark and heavy work, “Die Loreley” lighter with hints of folk tunes and the “Rhapsody” a spectacular with lots of musical fireworks. It was all played with the confidence and skill expected from such a well respected performer.

It was a fairly brief concert of seventy-five minutes or so and in some ways more like an illustrated lecture with Cislowska introducing each work with anecdotes and background. This does add a welcome human element to the performance and re-enforcing that the communication between musician and audience can be more than simply musical. Such a concert in the Wesley Church does drive home the need in Canberra for a well-designed 250 seat concert hall with the acoustics and sightlines that allow the audience to both see and hear the performance. The acoustics in the church are fine, but no-one past the first couple of rows could see anything of this very fine pianist as she played.


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