Contrasting rhythms in romantic classics

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Pianist Susanne Powell.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Classics One, “Forgotten Romance”, Albert Hall, February 14. Reviewed by IAN McLEAN.

VALENTINE’S Day ushered in a new chapter in CSO musical history with the introduction of “Chamber Classics”, a series aimed at both increasing interest in the intimacy of this performance style and in expanding opportunities for CSO players to display their considerable performing abilities.

“Forgotten Romance” was an appropriate title for a February 14 concert, and it certainly appealed to Canberra’s music lovers. Two shows were presented during the afternoon with each performance sold out to the virus-allowed audience cap of 180 patrons.

This was a delightful one-hour concert which summed up the essence of chamber music – the chance to listen with eyes as well as ears and to be up close and personal as players communicated with their smiles and nods and displayed complete understanding and trust in their fellow performers.

Kirsten Williams, CSO concertmaster. Photo: Martin Ollmann.

Kirsten Williams is the CSO concertmaster and, in partnership with distinguished pianist Susanne Powell, she opened the program with “Romance for Violin and Piano, Op 22, No 1″ by Clara Schumann, the much-celebrated musical wife of gifted composer, Robert Schumann. The Romance was simply lush and lovely, with rich, tonal quality from the violin, which filled the cleverly set up confines of Albert Hall, and wonderful balance between violin and piano.

The other members of the CSO Chamber Players, renowned instrumentalists Tor Fromyhr (viola), Patrick Suthers (cello) and Max McBride (double bass), joined violin and piano for a bright, cheery and uplifting performance of the Franz Schubert Quintet for Piano and Strings, well-known as “The Trout”.

These fine players produced a booming sound as they zipped through the many demanding, contrasting rhythms then suddenly danced with delicacy as they executed dynamic contrast of great variation. Playful and pretty became meditative and reflective then the well-known theme and variations movement hinted at syncopation, the basis of jazz which was to follow many years later. The exciting allegro “Finale” was the perfect ending and resulted in repeated, and well deserved, curtain calls.

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