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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Tattersall    A TROPICAL FAREWELL


In the same time and place on Friday was the Piazzolla special, The Provocative Tangos of Buenos Aires, a programme conceived by Chris Latham and presented by Latham (violin), David Pereira (cello) and Ian Munro. It was my first chance this week to hear Pereira and Latham properly (they have been busy teaching and organising respectively) and it was a real pleasure. Invierno Porteño and the exquisite, valedictory Ave Maria were highlights of the best concert of the twilight series.

From Paris with Love on Friday evening was a duo recital, Rogé and Hakuno with Dolly Suite, Ma mere l'oye, Poulenc's Sonata for two pianos, Rachmaninov's Suite No 2, again for two pianos, and Ravel's La Valse; a very big programme but they still had the energy, and the audience had the enthusiasm, for an encore.

Townsville Remembers in St James on Saturday morning was the culmination of the World War 2 theme within the festival, and was itself superbly programmed. The fact that it followed so soon after the appalling London bombings only intensified its poignancy. In a little over an hour, with no interval and no applause, it took the near-capacity audience to a quiet space of remembrance, reflection and regret. Each piece set the mood for the next; new music was juxtaposed with much-loved standard repertoire; and visitors from interstate and overseas played together seamlessly with local musicians (from the Army band, at that) in a -- perhaps accidental -- demonstration that all can unite in the cause of peace. If I had to single out one item for special notice it would be Meale's lovely Cantilena Pacifica, but even by doing that much I feel I am short-changing Sculthorpe and Koehne.

From there it inevitably seemed downhill to the end of the festival, with only two more concerts and no new venues or musicians to meet. A Tropical Farewell, the last concert in Civic Theatre, did seem to be something of a summing-up: Sculthorpe again and two big Romantic pieces played by half of the festival artists. James Buswell led fine performances of both of these, with the Brahms String Sextet No 1, Op 18, just edging out Mendelssohn's late String Quintet No 2 in popular appeal.

A Tropical Farewell should logically have been the end of the festival but no, we were back in St James on Sunday morning for a coda. Kirsti Harms and Pascal Rogé brought a subtle shimmering beauty of their Duparc songs but they were followed by a greater pleasure still. The Trio in A minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano by Carl Frühling, of whom I had never heard and of whom I had, therefore, no great expectations turned out to be a gorgeous late-Romantic piece with the depth of the German school and the translucency of the French. After a bon-bon from Piers Lane and Ian Munro we ended (again) with a big Romantic piece, this time Schumann's Piano Quintet Op 44; and again it was a fine performance and everyone loved it -- but I still liked the Frühling better.

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Copyright © 13 July 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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