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Canberra Today 18°/22° | Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Ma leads a concert of well-chosen music

John Ma plays the viola d’amore. Photo: Peter Hislop

Music / “All Baroque”, Musica Camera String Orchestra; musical director, John Ma. At Holy Covenant Anglican Church, Cook, November 12.  Reviewed by LEN POWER.

WHEN you get a musical director and violinist as much fun as John Ma, a concert can’t fail to be enjoyable. 

He has his own refreshing take on the music to be played and describes it in amusing and accessible terms. Watching him playing his instrument and leading the orchestra is to see a man who obviously loves what he does and wants to communicate that to his audience.

The concert consisted of lesser known works by Heinrich Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Muffat, composers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Heinrich Bach was JS Bach’s great-uncle. His Sonata II in F with its punchy opening set the tone for the concert. The orchestra gave it a great performance, full of energy and colour.

The next work, Telemann’s Overture: Suite La Bizarre, was another busy work with eight movements. It was a good showcase for the skill of the orchestra who played it with great depth and feeling. The Sarabande movement was particularly enjoyable with its sombre, melodic theme.

Vivaldi’s Concerto in D-major for Viola D’amore was prefaced with John Ma’s interesting and informative discussion about this instrument he was about to play.  Larger than a violin, it had seven strings and the same number of sympathetic strings strung through the bridge, giving it a special resonance.  It had a unique sound.

Musica da Camera String Orchestra. Photo: Peter Hislop.

The busy first and third movements of the concerto were played with gusto and the second largo movement was most memorable with the viola d’amore’s haunting sound rising so appealingly above the orchestra.

The final work, two movements of George Muffat’s Armonica Tributo Sonata da Camera No. 5, were played very well by Ma and the orchestra. The jaunty passages in the second Passacaglia Grave movement were unexpected and refreshing.

The concert was played without an interval break and this worked well, ensuring that the mood created by these works was not lost. This was an afternoon of great music from the period, well-chosen and played.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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