Growing ensemble ends the year on a high

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Violinist Midori Seiler… is a highly respected teacher and performer of early music.

Music / “Midori & Mozart”, The Haydn Ensemble, Albert Hall, November 21. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD. 

IT’S pleasing to watch a group of classical musicians grow and develop over a few years. When I first heard the Australian Haydn Ensemble around two and a half years ago it was bit rough around the edges, enthusiastic but lacking in some cohesion. The concerts last year showed great improvement and this final performance for 2019 was impressively done.

They have imported violinist Midori Seiler as guest director for these concerts. She is a highly respected teacher and performer of early music, with a special interest in Mozart and for this concert took the solo role in violin concertos by Mozart and Haydn, as well as leading the orchestra for a symphony by each.

The ensemble, led by violinist Skye McIntosh, has a core membership of seven, six strings and flute. For these performances this was augments by extra strings, bassoons, oboes and horns for a total of 19 or 20 on stage, close to the size of Haydn’s orchestra at the court of Prince Esterhazy in the late eighteenth century. They all play instruments of the period (or modern copies) and the gut strings struggled a little in the Canberra heat of this Thursday night in the Albert Hall. One of the violins was being particularly difficult through the first work, “Mozart’s Symphony No.33 in B flat major”, but this was adjusted appropriately between works and for the rest of the concert the orchestra was pleasingly in tune and well balanced.

Seiler’s two concertos, Haydn’s “Violin Concerto No 1 in C major” and Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No 2 in D major” were seemingly effortless. Through the final movement of the Mozart one of the other violinists was watching her every note with a look of total delight, and had a beaming grin at the end. It’s always a revealing moment when the rest of the players on stage are so appreciative of a soloist and leader.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble has five concerts planned for next year. The ensemble has set themselves a high standard of performance to live up to.

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