Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

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The Festival's Composer in Residence this year is Brett Dean (born 1961). His Huntingdon Eulogy (2001) was performed by Piers Lane, piano, and Raphael Wallfisch, cello. A substantial work of perhaps fifteen minutes, it falls into three programmatic sections: Nightsky, Swarming and Elegy. The first depicts, simply, the night sky in the Mudgee region of New South Wales, a grape-growing area. The second is a swarm of bees, which disturbed the composer and a friend after a long night's conversation, and the third is in remembrance of a young wine-maker of the region. They are respectively static and pointillist, rhythmic and aggressive, and plaintive. Together they make a work that is satisfying and accessible on first hearing and may reveal more depth on closer acquaintance.

Dean is a fine violist as well as a composer and he re-appeared after interval in a short improvised duet with didgeridoo player William Barton. Such things can be interesting or gimmicky; this one was the former.

Brett Dean. Photo courtesy of AFCM
Brett Dean. Photo courtesy of AFCM

Large vocal items ended each half of the programme -- Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzer for vocal quartet and piano four hands before interval, and a Noel Coward medley to finish the evening. The latter was particuarly well received by the near-capacity audience. Brian Castles-Onion devised the medley for a tour two years ago by the same performers, Peter Coleman-Wright, Cheryl Barker and Piers Lane. They looked and sounded as though they enjoyed revisiting it as much as we enjoyed revisiting Coward.

So far, attendances are higher last year, the music is at least as good, and audience enthusiasm is palpable. I hope to report in again at the end of the festival.

Lead-up events to the Festival started on Friday 29 June with the Outback Tour by a small group of musicians and patrons. I'll leave you with an idea of just how remote, even for Queenslanders, the Tour locations are. Normanton was one of their stops; this, on the edge of a mining township called Chillagoe, is the closest I have ever been to it:

Photo © Malcolm Tattersall
Photo © Malcolm Tattersall

 

Copyright © 11 July 2007 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia

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MALCOLM TATTERSALL AT THE 2006 FESTIVAL

THE AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL OF CHAMBER MUSIC

THE NEW ZEALAND STRING QUARTET

WILLIAM BARTON PRE-FESTIVAL CONCERT

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