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Inspiring music and art intertwined

Musica de Camera conducted by Chris Latham. Photo: Rob Kennedy

Music / Son et Lumière by Musica da Camera. At the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, April 6. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Visual art and music not only inspire one another, they intertwine. As the audience experienced in this concert, they also transcend their individual forms.

Chris Latham, who directed and led, with mezzo-soprano Christina Wilson and Musica da Camera, presented a program of songs and string music. Latham had handpicked artworks shown on a screen to match the music, each one mirroring the emotion of the music.

They began with Bach’s Adagio from his C Major Solo Violin Sonata, BWV1005 arranged for strings. The warm full sounds of the string orchestra made the Bach rich and emotionally poignant.

The Passacaglia from William Walton’s Death of Falstaff from his Henry V suite followed. Thick with voluptuous chords, played beside accompanying images of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, was again a warm rich piece played so sweetly.

Then with Wilson on stage, FS Kelly’s six Songs of Love and Loss. The works, while delicious on many levels, may have sounded better with Wilson in front of the orchestra. While the space didn’t really allow for that, Wilson’s velvety voice shone through.

A piece by Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg titled Romanian Melody, which was arranged for strings with images by Franz Marc, followed. This solemn yet highly rhythmic work bustled along at a good clip. Full of sweeping melodies and lovely deep strings, it added much colour to the concert.

From his Divertimento No. 2 for Strings, the Finale, Op. 24 by Hungarian composer Léo Werner, had a mighty rhythmic motion. However, some in the strings could not hit the right intonation. A complex work that showed more investigation into this composer is required.

After the interval, Bach’s Prelude BWV 855A. With angular artworks by Piet Mondrian that fitted the music perfectly, it flowed from key to key in an oh so perfect Bach way. Building to a lush climax, it then gradually fell away.

A Lullaby by Gideon Klein brought Wilson back to the stage. With violin and strings and imagery by the wild child, Egon Schiele, made for a fascinating combination. Wilson’s singing was sensuous, touching and deeply profound.

An Aria by Mieczyslaw Weinberg came next. Then Wilson again, this time singing the Dutch composer Rosy Wertheim’s Le Tsigane dans la Lune. The richness and emotion in this stunning work stopped time. With images by Marc Chagall, the combination was completely ethereal.

Then a short work titled Lamento, (In the Yemeni style) by German composer James Simon. Wilson returned for her final song, the Vocalise by Rachmaninoff. This song without words is a profound, elevating and heartbreaking statement.

To finish this colour filled concert of music and artworks, from Symphony Buddha, 1934 by Japanese composer Kishi Kōichi arranged for violin and strings, was performed by Fumiyo Yamamoto on violin. With images by Hilma af Klint, this soft music had an uplifting quality that expressed what Latham said in his opening address about the programming, this wasn’t going to be a sad concert.

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