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Sinfonia crosses centuries with contrasting works

Australian composer Natalie Nicolas

Music / Canberra Sinfonia. Conducted by Leonard Weiss, at Wesley Music Centre, December 5. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

RECENTLY returned from musical studies in the US, Leonard Weiss conducted the Canberra Sinfonia in its only concert for this year.  It was good to have them all back.

The program concentrated on the works of two composers who are almost three centuries apart, giving the audience a nice contrast in style and content.

Natalie Nicolas is an Australian composer who completed her Master of Music (Composition) under scholarship at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she is now a tutor and lecturer.

The first of two of her works presented in this concert was “The End”, which was written for (and won) the Flinders Quartet Composition Competition in 2019. It had a quietly reflective opening, followed by a busy mid-section with moments of tension and underlying playful melodies leading to a wistful and calm finale. It was played with clarity and colour.

The second work, composed in 2020, “The ‘Business’ of Recovery” deals with the circumstances we’ve all found ourselves in this year. Pulsating rhythms at the beginning were edgy and tentative in mood and, as the work progressed, it had a sense of hope that ended with a bright, sustained note of optimism. It was a work that really resonated with today and was well played.

Both pieces were arranged by Natalie Nicolas for this performance.

Nine members of the Canberra Sinfonia then played “Nonet In F Major” by Franz Paul Lachner who was a prominent German composer and conductor in the 19th century. No longer well known, his compositional output includes eight symphonies and several orchestral suites, six operas, a requiem and chamber works.

His “Nonet in F Major” is a highly romantic and melodic work. An outstanding minuet second movement includes a notable clarinet solo, played well here by Tim Artelaris. It was followed by a quietly elegant adagio and ended with a robust and bright finale. The orchestra members gave a fine performance of this charming work. It made me want to explore more of the output of this composer.

At the end of the concert, the audience showed its appreciation with sustained applause necessitating more than one bow. It was richly deserved.

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