Darkness to light
MALCOLM TATTERSALL is at the
Australian Festival of Chamber Music
The fifteenth Australian Festival of Chamber Music opened in Townsville on Friday evening (1 July 2005) with a splendid concert in its primary venue, the Civic Theatre.
The twenty-five year old Civic Theatre seats nearly a thousand and was comfortably filled with a mix of local and visiting listeners. Many people in the colder southern parts of the country enjoy a winter escape to the tropics, and those who enjoy fine music naturally try to build their holiday around the festival each year. There is also a sprinkling of overseas visitors and one suspects that the festival's opening item was chosen with them at least partly in mind.
Townsville from Mount Stuart, looking north. Castle Hill, almost on the shore of Cleveland Bay, is in line with Magnetic Island. Ross River winds across the middle of the picture. Photo © 2004 Malcolm Tattersall
Peter Sculthorpe, one of Australia's leading composers, has written much chamber music including some fifteen string quartets. Recently, inspired particularly by the playing of William Barton, he has begun to adapt some of his older pieces to include the didjeridu; so it was that the festival opened with his Quamby, originally for string quartet but now for the quartet plus didjeridu. The performers were the Goldner Quartet, for whom the quartet was written, with William Barton. The didjeridu provided a subtly-shifting pedal point for the Prelude, returned for an extended solo at the end of the third movement and was woven into the texture of the entire finale. The work is made far more distinctive as well as enriched by its re-working: the didjeridu has appeared on our concert stage for thirty years or more, but is still a very rare visitor.
The festival's Artistic Director, Theodore Kuchar, then announced two withdrawals, both for medical reasons, from the festival: Sculthorpe, and violinist Pierre Amoyal. Amoyal was to have played the Shostakovich Piano Trio No 2, Op 67, with Zuill Bailey and Pascal Rogé. James Buswell substituted for him, on less than a week's notice, and their performance was magnificent.
Copyright © 7 July 2005
Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia