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After the interval we heard Milhaud's own re-orchestration of his ballet score La Creation du Monde for piano and string quartet. This was apparently the first Australian performance of this version of the work but it failed to hold its place against the Shostakovich or indeed the Dvorák Piano Quartet in Eb, Op 87, which concluded the evening. Here we heard Buswell again -- scheduled, not subbing -- with Kuchar on viola, Jiri Barta on cello and Meng-Chieh Liu on piano.

On Saturday morning I could have attended the 'Enchanted Wonderland' of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and Poulenc's Story of Babar the Elephant but couldn't borrow any children of appropriate age. Those who attended did apparently enjoy it, but there was plenty of other good music later in the day. The twilight concert, again in Civic Theatre, began with Beethoven's Cello Sonata Op 102, No 2, in a rather inward-looking performance by young American cellist Julie Albers with Australian Bernadette Balkus. Then something new: A Little Summer Music by Peteris Vasks. Vasks, a Latvian composer of the post-war generation, is the festival's other -- now only -- composer in residence. His music is new to me, as I suspect it will be to almost all of the audience here, but this little suite for violin and piano was very attractive and I'm looking forward to hearing more. Buswell and Liu, who presented the Vasks, returned to the stage immediately for Prokofiev's demanding, for performers and audience alike, Violin Sonata No 1, Op 80.

An alfresco dinner on the theatre forecourt (not much twilight is left by 6.30pm but it's still a balmy 22C -- our winter is not what anyone could call severe) left us very pleasantly relaxed for the evening concert of Brahms songs, a Mozart piano quartet and Chausson's big Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet.

Soprano Kirsti Harms is setting a precedent: she is the first singer to be a guest artist of the Festival. The two lieder (Op 91) she performed with viola and piano were charming but were predestined to be overshadowed. Whether one preferred Mozart's late Piano Quartet in G minor, K478, or the Chausson, would have to come down to a preference for classical or romantic music. They are both masterpieces, and both were played marvellously.

James Buswell
James Buswell

The soloists in the Chausson were James Buswell, again standing in for Amoyal, and Pascal Rogé. I was pleased to see Carol Ou with them; I have enjoyed her cello playing very much in previous years and she made a significant contribution to this performance.

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Copyright © 7 July 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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