Ingrid MatthewsLeft - Ingrid Matthews. Photo - Steven Godbee

I often wonder if the great composers of the baroque (and beyond) eras ever heard their works performed with as much clarity and precision as we do today – especially on fine recordings. But the sound presented by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in this concert must be as close as we will ever get to hearing such works as their composers did.

From the moment they walked on stage, one was immediately struck by the orchestra’s freshness and youth. Then their playing echoed this feeling as these adept young musicians poured out some glories of the baroque on very old instruments or copies of them, with a crisp freshness that did them proud.

Original instruments have their advantages and their drawbacks. The 1704 violin in its original condition, expertly played by Guest Director Ingrid Matthews has a rich sonority, and the wooden flutes add a velvety soft timbre to the busyness of much of this music. The adapted hunting horns, or corno da caccia, have a brashness that can be charming at the same time as being cheekily unpredictable and often approximate in their intonation.

Nevertheless, the combination of this excellent orchestra and the Adelaide Town Hall acoustic made for a very fine concert indeed. Three Vivaldi concertos, each showing a different face from the extraordinarily profuse pen of this remarkable composer, were pitted against some less inspiring but none-the-less interesting works from the period by Johann David Heinichen, Francesco Geminiani and Romanus Weichlein.

We were also treated to the “Canon on the Post Horn” by this latter composer in its first ever Australian performance. A four-chord continuo on the theorbo, harpsichord and bass did not provide a vast range of potential, but against it the four violins expertly trilled, and cascaded down the scale to display a piece with an interesting history, which was nicely explained by Artistic Director Paul Dyer.

The other showpiece for four violins was Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor (RV 580) which uncharacteristically starts with a superbly executed whisper on the violins, growing through dark and foreboding suspensions until an unmistakeably Vivaldian Allegro takes over.

Any expectations of baroque simplicity are shattered by the amazing complexity and intense appeal of a real live Brandenburg Concerto by the master of baroque himself – Johann Sebastian Bach. In the 4th such, the Brandenburg Orchestra lived up to its name, and flashed through it with remarkable agility, especially in the presto fugue movement, with two recorders (Melissa Farrow and Mikaela Oberg) in perfect unity, and with Ingrid Matthews’ violin leading the way. A fabulous centrepiece in a delightful and memorable concert.


AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA
THREE FACES OF VIVALDI

2009 National Tour

SYDNEY City Recital Hall, Angel Place 6 performances, including matinee
EVENINGS - Fri 11, Sat 12, Wed 16, Fri 18, Sat 19 September @ 7pm
MATINEE - Sat 19 September @ 2pm
Tickets range from $26.50 to $120 Booking fees apply.
City Recital Hall Box Office 02 8256 2222 www.cityrecitalhall.com.au or Brandenburg Box Office 02 9328 7581

ADELAIDE Town Hall
Sunday 20 September @ 5pm
Tickets range from $35 (under 30) to $85 Booking fees apply.
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or bass.net.au

PERTH Perth Concert Hall
Tuesday 22 September @ 8pm
Tickets range from $35 (under 30) to $85 Booking fees apply.
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing (08) 9484 1133 or bocsticketing.com.au

MELBOURNE Melbourne Recital Centre 2 performances
Thursday 24 September & Friday 25 September @ 7.30pm
Tickets range from $45 (under 30) to $110 Booking fees apply.
Bookings: Melbourne Recital Centre (03) 9699 3333 or melbournerecital.com.au

BRISBANE QPAC
Sunday 27 September @ 5pm
Tickets range from $35 (under 30) to $85 Booking fees apply.
Bookings: QTIX on 136 246 or qtix.com.au


Most read Adelaide reviews

Gaslight is an entertaining, non-convoluted, engaging and superbly written piece, so that it...