The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) under the Direction of the Internationally renowned Violinist, Anthony Marwood, give a concert of musical treats. Says Mr Marwood:
We've chosen a huge treat of a programme. Stravinsky's brittle and brilliant writing contrasts with Dvorak's lush and joyful outpouring ; and there is George Enescu, whose musical voice is slowly but surely being rediscovered in the concert hall.The first two pieces are works for easy listening.
The Igor Stravinsky Divertimento, was composed in 1934, arranged here, by James Ledger, from two different versions of this concert piece, one for orchestra and one for violin and piano. Its origin is from a commission for a ballet. For the resulting one-act ballet, LA BAISER DE LA FEE (THE FAIRY'S KISS), Stravinsky derived and adapted material from mostly lesser-known songs and piano music by Tchaikovsky, and this gentle nostalgic-sounding piece uses approximately half of the music in the larger work. Stravinsky "re-worked much of the music, added transitions, and composed some portions of the score from scratch." Following straight on was the Antonin Dvorak, Serenade for Strings in E major, Op.22 composed in 1875. In five sections the music is "Elegant, charming, and easy on the ear." Like the Stravinsky before, it was a work that was not too taxing or, to my experience, too remarkable. Both, pleasant.
It was after the interval that Anthony Marwood, introduced us to a work of immense sophistication and intellectual and emotional reward, and probably, nay definitely, the raison d'être for the concert choices. The relative easy listening and, perhaps, playing, of the first two works, was a warm-up preparation for what was to be undertaken next. The Romanian composer, George Enescu's Octet for Strings in C major, Op.7 was composed in 1900. Written originally for eight individual players - four violins and pairs of violas and cellos - here, it is arranged for a full string orchestra, "with certain singing parts [to] be entrusted to soloists". Mr Marwood in a note in the program tells us:
Enscu's mighty and sensuous Octet, written when he was eighteen years old, is perhaps a deliberate challenge to that iconic work of Felix Mendelssohn. Enscu's masterpiece is much longer and more complex, and combines astonishing contrapuntal brilliance with the grand sweep of a tone poem. It is one of the most technically difficult works in the repertoire to play and the ride is thrilling.And, that, it was. The four movements are played without a pause to form one enormous sonata-form structure. The attentive music cuing, signalling, and sensitive reading from all the players with each other, in delivering the many combination of instruments, from solo to the whole orchestra, was as dramatic a feat to watch as was the actual hearing impact of the music. The performance of this work was exhilarating on so many sensory levels, enough, indeed, to rouse the spirit to what Mr Marwood promised: "a thrilling ride."
Bravo. And, again, Bravo.
The Enscu Octet, arranged for a full orchestra, and led by Anthony Marwood, a wonderful reason to attend the concert.