‘Celebrating Song’, the third of the 2010 Seraphim Trio Portrait Series, explores the theme of domesticity in its entire range of harmony, bliss, comical chaos, virtues and vice. In this concert, Seraphim Trio are joined by the bubbly soprano Lisa Harper Brown who sets free the ensemble into chamber music bravura impossible with instruments alone.
The smart programming Seraphim Trio is known for bears its mark also on this concert. The concert began with a familiar composer although an unfamiliar work, the Beethoven Trio in E flat with the intriguing numbers op. 1 no. 1. This virtuosic and amusing piece yields to the best of classical traditions, echoing Haydn and displaying the potential of early Beethoven. The goodness of noble harmony, melodic grace, ensemble balance and insightful phrasing illuminated by the mastery of Helen Ayres, Anna Goldsworthy and Timothy Nankervis, reminded the audience of domestic chamber music making known to past centuries and almost nonexistent now.
The Beethoven theme continued, this time with Beethoven’s settings of familiar Scottish tunes Op. 108 which catered to the taste of local audiences. Lisa Harper Brown took pleasure in performing the Scottish tunes and communicated their sentiments and wit with impeccable diction.
Having satisfied the listeners’ thirst for familiarity, the second part of the concert ventured into contemporary music. The first piece was an excellent arrangement for piano trio and soprano of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘What a movie’ from the opera ‘Trouble in Tahiti’. Lisa Harper Brown depicted with great realism the irritation of a bored housewife who does not wish to admit her enchantment with romance.
There could be no essays on home making without discussion of cuisine. The next musical serving was not less than four recipes, taken directly from ‘La bonne cuisine’ by Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange - the French equivalent of "The joy of cooking", and set by Leonard Bernstein in 1948. Lisa Harper Brown displayed an extraordinary range of expressive tones for such technical lyrics. The audience was relieved to know that should they need to cook ox-tails and rabbit, they could refer to these top speed songs recipes.
The appetites were already wet, the anticipation unbearable - a new commission for desert. Semi-staged, fresh, not even finished ‘The ringtone cycle’ by Graeme Koehne with text by Peter Goldsworthy resounded familiar themes of search for love amidst alienation and the confusions of electronic communication. The prelude ventured into a full-blown fugue on the well-known Nokia ringtone. Melodrama, recitative and ariosos dashed amidst rock textures to illustrate the urgency for physical imagery on the online dating scene. Cyber vocabulary was elevated to high art, pungent expectation into lyricism. To the dismay of those who think that contemporary classical music is dissonant and ugly, the last part was a dreamy, silvery and affectionate aria of such beauty that silent admiration overflowed the Elder Hall.
Lisa Harper Brown portrayed the well-known modern stereotype of the thirty-something lonely woman to perfection. She was tragic, funny, beautiful and poignant, her voice going always full of emotion, her body strong in dramatic truth.
This is only the first part of ‘The ringtone cycle’. More is to come; we were assured by both composer and librettist, who deservedly bowed at the end of the concert in front of an ecstatic audience.
Only the first half of this concert would have sufficed. Seraphim Trio is however generous in spirit and presents original classical music experiences, instructive programming and intimate discussion of repertoire, social occasions for chamber music fans and opportunities for ingenious collaboration.
Coriole Vineyards (one of the sponsors) provided a free selection of mouth-watering red and white wine. Promotion of the good things in life on the nose and a long palate for giving back to the community, gave an example to other businesses of how to quench the thirst of the arts sector and enable subtle exchange of ideas and ideals.
All of the above was on offer for only $25. Watch out for the 2011 season!
Portraits - Concert Three: Celebrating Beethoven
The Independent Theatre
Thursday October 14th October 8pm
Saturday 16th October 7pm
Sunday 17th October 2.30pm