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Sunshine and Stars

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2006 continues,
and MALCOLM TATTERSALL sends a second report


The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is an indulgence but a marathon too, and demands some stamina. Monday (3 July 2006) was a rest day for everyone except those who went to Orpheus Island but there are no more gaps in the programme from Tuesday to the end of the festival.

Tuesday's twilight concert, of two Mozart works, was presented by the Goldner Quartet. They played the Quartet in Bb K589 and were joined by Catherine McCorkill, playing a basset clarinet, for the Clarinet Quintet K581. The Quartet was perhaps a little careful but the Quintet was pure pleasure -- for the players, too: a warm 'this is going to be lovely' smile passed around the group after the first phrase.

Symphony Under the Stars was the big general-public event of the Festival: an overseas orchestra playing Beethoven and Mendelssohn in the park. Festival director Theodore Kuchar is now principal conductor of the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra from Ostrava in the Czech Republic so he was privileged to act in both roles at once in this, his last festival. Corey Cerovsek was his soloist in the lovely Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor.

An elaborate stage was set up under spotlit banyan figs and rain-trees in Queens Gardens, and fairy lights draped through the vegetation provided just enough light for the audience. The ambience trumped the music to a certain degree. Open air, the amplification and a nasty echo (in my seating position, at least) made for less-than-ideal playing conditions but the orchestra and soloist gave of their best and the audience, in love with the whole idea, thoroughly enjoyed it. Many brought picnics to the park before the concert; six or seven hundred chairs were set up and occupied but the audience spread well beyond them in little clusters of deckchairs and rugs. (The rugs were needed, too. Clear skies warned the locals that the evening was going to be chilly and in fact the temperature dropped below 10C (60F) overnight.)

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Copyright © 8 July 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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