With the uber-cute photograph of guest director and lead violin Alina Ibragimova splashed all over the pre-event promotional paraphernalia for Vivacious, the Perth Concert Hall audience was pleased to see the pint-sized Russian-born blonde was every bit as gorgeous as promised. Ibragimova walked onto the stage clutching her 1738 Pietro Guarneri of Venice violin in a flowing, sparkling silver dress that fell over her tiny figure.
Ibragimova soon proved her diminutive stature was no hindrance to her ability to play powerfully. Her role as lead violin was performed dynamically and confidently and the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) lived up to their reputation as an ensemble of virtuosos of the highest level.
The ACO came out dressed in black – I have to admit my first thought was funeral garb – but personalities emerged as various members soloed and had their chance to shine.
The chief viola Christopher Moore rebelled against the constraints of his attire with a subtle Mohawk and ratstail. He performed two solo acts, one of which was for me the most memorable piece of the first half – Plaintive Song. The mournful cries he elicited from his instrument were otherworldy.
I always feel for the double bass player – bound to perform the obscure role. Maxime Bibeau was suitably tall and stately and looked perfectly controlled behind his unwieldy instrument. The lead celloist, Tim-Veikko Valve, distinguished himself with his impeccable playing and violent head movements, his hand creeping like a spider up the arm.
There were many memorable moments in the first half, especially the angry violin songs, with jabbing bows attacking the strings and heads being shaken about like flowers blown in the wind. But by the time it came to Berg’s haunting trio, the audience were waiting for the familiar strains of Vivaldi.
Andante amoroso, allegro misterioso and adagio appassionato were all performed impeccably and brought to mind dark chocolate – intense and dark and apparently good for you – but everyone was waiting for something sweeter.
So after the break, the audience was sitting up straight, ready to hear the promised Four Seasons. We were treated to an exquisite performance, light as air, bows dancing on instruments. The recognisable sounds of Spring and its joyous celebration of waking nature and new life were especially resonant, as the Perth sun is starting to gain some strength and the smell of cut lawn and flowers are in the air. We were farewelled with Winter and the contented sounds of plucking strings.
A memorable performance and an enjoyable evening of entertainment by musicians of the highest calibre. I’m sure I was not alone in being enchanted by the immensely talented young Ibragimova.
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Dates and Venues
Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, Wollongong Fri 22 August 7.30pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney Sat 23 August 8pm | Bookings 02 8256 2222
QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane Mon 25 August 8pm | Bookings 136 246
City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney Tue 26 August 8pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney Wed 27 August 7pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
Newcastle City Hall Thu 28 August 7.30pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra Sat 30 August 8pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
The Arts Centre, Hamer Hall, Melbourne Sun 31 August 2.30pm | Bookings 1300 136 166
The Arts Centre, Hamer Hall, Melbourne Mon 1 September 8pm | Bookings 1300 136 166
Adelaide Town Hall Tue 2 September 8pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
Perth Concert Hall Wed 3 September 8pm | Bookings 1800 444 444
Sydney Opera House Concert Hall Sun 7 September 2.30pm | Bookings 02 9250 7777