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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Music lovers find romance

Teddy Neeman… unabashedly romantic. Photo: Martin Ollman.

Music / “Great Romantics”, CSO Chamber Ensemble. At Albert Hall, June 19. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.

CANBERRA music lovers voted with their feet yesterday when they packed into the Albert Hall on a perfect winter afternoon to indulge their romantic leanings.

An afternoon of sheer pleasure and indulgence it was, as CSO concertmaster Kirsten Williams joined pianist Edward (Teddy) Neeman, violinist Doreen Cumming, violist Lucy Carrigy-Ryan and cellist Patrick Suthers as they performed works full of passion and complexity, while clearly enjoying themselves.

It’s been a tough winter for the CSO and two of the scheduled performers, Susanne Powell on piano and Tor Fromyhr on viola had to withdraw.

As well, because of the contrast between the crisp temperatures outside and the warmth inside, the ensemble members needed to stop between movements to retune, but that simply added to the intimacy and informality of the concert.

It’s hard to understand why ground-breaking Croatian composer Dora Pejačevic’s dramatic “Piano Quintet in B” is so infrequently performed, so striking and so confident the work is.

Kirsten Williams – passion and drive. Photo: Martin Ollman.

Williams took to the bow with passion and drive as the in-your-face and optimistic first movement of the work began.

But the surprise here was Neeman. Normally restrained and disciplined when performing contemporary works, here we saw another side of this performer as he let go, powerful and unabashedly romantic.

A change of mood in the second movement saw a sign of Pejačevic’s cleverness as a composer, giving each of the performers his or her moment. The haunting melody taken up magnificently by Carrigy-Ryan on the viola provided moments of refined reflection.

In the third movement the scherzo, the lively playing returned, later eclipsed by the final movement. There was an impassioned hint of tragedy in this, before a simply astonishes conclusion, full of dramatic key changes that brought the performance to its rousing conclusion.

The choice of Brahms’ “Second Piano Trio in C major” involved a change of program from the previously advertised “Horn Trio in E flat major”, but it was nonetheless consistent with the romantic theme for the afternoon.

Composed between 1880 and 1882, the trio shows Brahms at his most mature, a challenge Williams, Neeman and Carrigy-Ryan met.

The rhythmic opening saw the strings, led by Williams, in a deep conversation with Suthers’ cello, and Neeman on the piano.

Then, inspired by traditional Hungarian music, the second movement gave Suthers a chance to explore the deep range of his instrument, reflecting the nostalgia of folk melodies.

The scherzo showed off Neeman’s famous nimbleness on the keyboard and the string players’ capacity to move from dark to light, before this afternoon of unrestrained romanticism concluded with the allegro, showing the three players at their most virtuosic.

Sheer excitement.

 

 

 

 

 

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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