Music / “Musical Friends”. Sydney Consort. At Wesley Music Centre, March 10. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
CONTEMPORARIES Handel and Telemann cross similar musical territory. This extended into their careers and relationship and they even swapped gifts and musical ideas.
In this concert titled “Musical Friends” were Josie Ryan soprano, Jane Downer baroque oboe, Stan Kornel baroque violin & viola d’amore and Monika Kornel on harpsichord.
Beginning with Telemann’s “Trio Sonata in G minor”, the baroque oboe and violin swapped phrases between them, then the harpsichord filled in the middle through a beautifully sad melody. The short four-movement sonata showed Telemann’s clear and effective compositional style.
The quality of the music that these three professional players on period instruments create, sounds as good and authentic as the best musicians around.
Handel’s German Aria “Flammende Rose” when sung by soprano Josie Ryan, makes a listener stand up and take notice. Specialising in early vocal music, Ryan’s voice, style and stage presence is perfectly suited to the baroque lavishness. Her articulation, intonation and presence stood out.
As the program bounced between Handel’s and Telemann’s works, when it came to Handel’s “Cantata, “Mi Palpita il cor”, things took a dramatic turn. Handel wrote his “Italian Cantatas” around the age of 20. Ryan’s warm and tender singing matched the astonishing melodic beauty of Handel’s writing. Her voice is something else. The blending of the oboe through the song made it sound like there were two sopranos on stage. This was sheer musical mastery in composition and performance.
The “Sonata in C Major” by Handel, as Stan Kornel said, was a most beautiful work. C major exposes a composers strength or weakness. Not using sharp or flat notes can reduce a composer to limited scope, but not for Handel. Played on the viola d’amore by Stan Kornel, the extra depth of this instrument helped expose Handel’s innate understanding of good composition, as it was performed so well.
Telemann’s “Fantasia No. 4” in Bb Major for solo oboe, or flute as it was written, showed his ability to write for wind instruments. He excelled, especially in recorder music. This entertaining piece moved up and down and across a range of stylistic realms that would tax any player. Ryan on her baroque oboe made the music sound flowing and authentic.
For the final work of the concert, the “Cantata for New Year’s Day” by Telemann was not full of the celebration that we have come to know surrounding new year’s day. It sounded more like a composer who was glad a year was over, not beginning. The soprano’s voice and presentation added much clarity and colour to the recital, as did all the performers in this concert of musical friends.