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<<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Tattersall    THE JOURNEY BEGINS


A short walk in the sunshine took us from the Perc Tucker Gallery, venue for the talk, to the Anglican Cathedral of St James for the première of Arafura Dances and for the Dvorák which followed it.

Arafura Dances is a transcription for harp and string quartet of Edwards' Guitar Concerto. Harpist Marshall McGuire transcribed the guitar part for himself, while the composer reduced the orchestra to a string quartet. The result proved to be enchanting and should readily find a place in the chamber music repertoire. One audience member compared it to Mendelssohn; the comparison was surprising but not unjustified, given the work's easy, playful grace.

The remainder of the concert consisted of the two Dvorák piano quintets in A major, Op 5 and Op 81. The opportunity to hear a pair of works side by side like this is a prime benefit of a big festival. In this case it showed very clearly just how far Dvorák came in the fifteen years or so between the two: Op 5 was pleasant enough but Op 81 was wonderful -- glorious, passionate music superbly suited to the instrumentation and played as it deserved to be.

Last year one musician dominated the festival from its beginning, and only partly because he took on a double workload. The honours this year are much more evenly spread, as indeed they should be. Pianists Pascal Rogé and Meng-chieh Liu, violinist Corey Cerovsek, violist Alena Ondrisikova, and cellists Alexander Ivashkin and Peter Rejto have all been outstanding in the various ensembles in which they have performed so far, and the Goldner Quartet is, if possible, playing better than ever. The AFCM is again dominated by strings and piano, so the remainder are automatically distinguished by being 'different'. So far, they have been superb as well: congratulations to William Barton, didgeridu, and Marshall McGuire, harp.

On Sunday afternoon and evening the lucky few who could get into the small venue heard Bach sonatas and partitas and his Concerto for Oboe and Violin in St Joseph's Church. On Monday, the even luckier even fewer will board a cruise ship for the short trip in Barrier Reef waters to a twilight concert on the beach of Orpheus Island. The rest of us have to wait until Tuesday for the next events.

Copyright © 3 July 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia




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