Music / “Four Winds Festival 2021”, Bermagui, April 2-4. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
AFTER a spellbinding couple of days at the 2021 Four Winds Festival, the final day, Sunday, April 4, hosted more musical and artistic treats.
To add to the delightful ambience, at the end of Saturday and Sunday’s afternoon performances, in the Windsong Pavilion, music aficionado Graham Abbott held conversations with festival artists and directors over drinks and food.
The Muffat Collective on strings with Hamed Sadeghi playing the Tar, an Iranian lute-like instrument, performed musical interactions between the sounds of the east and west. Responding to Muffat’s playing with improvisatory moments, Sadeghi and the players created an intimate world of unique sounds. With music by Francois Couperin, Bagio Marini and others, they brought a stillness to the festival that matched the nature we were in.
Tangos from a range of composers performed on solo piano by Stefan Cassomenos got the “Piano Rhapsodies” session underway. Then works by Ravel, his “Rapsodie Espagnole” and his “Piano Trio in A minor” with Liisa Pallandi, violin and Timo-Veikko Valve, cello.
Having seen Cassomenos perform live up-close in a house concert in Canberra, it didn’t take long to figure out what an extraordinary player he is. His pedalling with both feet brings a unique expressive sound to the piano. He proved equally eloquent when chatting with Graham Abbott before his playing. A divine performance all around.
There were many special performances after lunch in the second “Shimmering Moments” session. Musicians, singers, poets and a spoken word performer, with a string section created moments of sublime introspection between the audience, the performers and the surroundings.
Then, for classical music-lovers, a dream concert. Timo-Veikko Valve on cello performing all six parts of JS Bach’s “Suite for unaccompanied cello in E flat Major”, BWV1010. It was as though the entire audience held its breath for all six pieces. Even the sounds of nature abated. It amazes how one solo cello line of music can stop almost everything around it. Bach’s voice still speaks strongly today, as it did 300 years ago. Most in the large audience stood and applauded this special music and playing.
For the final work of the day, a super symphony orchestra performed, comprising the Goldner Quartet, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship, with Sydney Symphony Principal Percussion Rebecca Lagos, Stefan Cassomenos on piano, Rohan Dasika on double bass, and members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra Liisa Pallandi, violin and Timo-Veikko Valve, cello.
They were gathered together to perform the 2013 work titled “Compassion” by Lior and Nigel Westlake, who also conducted. To sing this “Missa Solis”, a requiem for Westlake’s son Eli, the rich lush voice of singer-songwriter Lior. In seven movements, “Compassion” is filled with the brightness, beauty and electric nature of many of Westlake’s compositions.
The music was an equal match for Lior’s high yet mellow sweet voice. The lyrics were drawn from the rich worlds of Judaism and Islam. Even if the audience didn’t know the words, they felt the meaning in the music. This is the sort of piece that is an instant crowd-pleaser.
It was a perfect way to end the day and wind up most of this festival of music and art that came from across cultures and centuries. It awarded a rare artistic experience for the many thousands of people who were there. In a place that resonates with the spirit of nature and human connection, this Four Winds Festival will long be remembered.