Diary March 2023


Musica Viva Australia

Queensland Conservatorium Theatre, Griffith University

Tuesday March 7 at 7 pm

Born in Germany but raised and educated in Queensland, Karin Schaupp leads the first Musica Viva recital series event in Brisbane for this year. To make us feel more warm and fuzzy, she is accompanied by the home-grown Flinders Quartet which, at current time of printing, comprises violins Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba, and Wilma Smith, viola Helen Ireland, and cello Zoe Knighton. These last two are original members while the upper lines have seen a few excellent musicians leave for fresh pastures; Erica Kennedy and Matthew Tomkins spring to mind as long-term previous members, she currently occupied with Orchestra Victoria and he still leading the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s second violins as he has since the Punic Wars. At all events, here they are in partnership, recalling their 2011 successful CD Fandango for ABC Classics, but only slightly: the one surviving program element is part of Boccherini’s D Major Guitar Quintet – the last two movements, comprising a Grave assai and a fandango. As for the rest, the night starts with a Carulli guitar concerto, Op 8 in A Major which, as far as I can tell, has two movements only. Of more temporal substance is Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s 1950 Guitar Quintet Op. 143, written for Segovia and comprising four movements. Another work of substance is Imogen Holst’s one-movement Phantasy Quartet of 1928; an early work, full of common sense and opening with the promise of relaxed British pastoralism. Interspersed with these come two Australian scores. First, Richard Charlton‘s Southern Cross Dreaming from 2007 – a short tremolo study for solo guitar, written for and first performed by Schaupp. Then Carl Vine‘s Endless, commissioned for Musica Viva and enjoying its world premieres across this national tour; it’s a substantial commemoration of the architect Jennifer Bates, killed by a motor accident in December 2016. Tickets range from $15 (Student Rush) to $109 (Standard). As far as I can see, the customary pernicious booking fee is waived, but I could be wrong.


Opera Queensland

Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

Thursday March 9 at 7 pm

Not my favourite Verdi opera, although fanatics will hear nothing against it, just as they will tolerate no negative comments about Ernani or I masnadieri. A few performances in Melbourne over a span of about 30 years reinforced this prejudice, the first one starring Rita Hunter as Lady Macbeth; the highpoint of that night lay in coming across the strangely inappropriate brindisi, Si colmi il calice, by means of which the murderess greets her guests for the ghost-dominated banquet. But also, I’ve been jaundiced by having to teach the play to hundreds of uninterested Year 11 students over much of my secondary school purgatory. How Verdi’s first Shakespeare dabble will fare without the trappings of scenery and lighting is anyone’s guess; still, you’ll enjoy an extraordinary focus on the singing. Who gets the title role? Well-known Opera Australia bass stalwart Jose Carbo takes the honours here. As for his toast-mistress wife, this is soprano Anna-Louise Cole, whom I remember from her student days before she went off-country to study in Germany, recently returning home to take on heavy roles like this and a 2022 Turandot for the national company. Big winner/loser (‘All my pretty ones?’) Macduff will be Rosario La Spina, local celebrity tenor from whom we’ve heard little in the past few years (an absence from activity that he shares with many other singers, of course). The Banquo will be New Zealand bass Wade Kernot, tenor Carlos E. Barcenas the luckless Malcolm, while the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s newish chief conductor, Umberto Clerici, controls the pit – and, with a bit of luck, the stage. OQ’s publicity mentions a director and a pair of costume creatives, so things may not be as visually bleak as I’d expected. Tickets range from $75 to $ 125 with some slight concessions available and – of course – the booking fee that is a compulsory penalty for using a credit card in this rubbishy new world where nobody pollutes themselves with cash.

The performance will be repeated on Saturday March 11 at 2 pm.


Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Studio, South Brisbane

Sunday March 12 at 3 pm

Welcome to the first of this year’s Sunday afternoon chamber exercises from the QSO, where members of the organization get to play together in small groups; all very pleasant, even if the resulting performances can creak at the seams. In fact, this program will feature some fairly noticeable creaking in its first part, while the second segment is made up of a string quartet stalwart in Beethoven’s Razumovsky No. 3 in C – last in the three-part set and the one that doesn’t have a Russian tune/theme incorporated. As preludial matter, a quartet of bassoons – Nicole Tait, David Mitchell, Evan Lewis, Claire Ramuscak (contra) – will air Gerard Brophy‘s brief Four Branches of 2015. Then a group of strings might present the first movement of Piazzolla’s Tango Suite. This was originally written for two guitars, but I’ve also come across an arrangement for four bassoons (no contra) by Fraser Jackson. So the QSO’s low woodwind may be extending their Brophy experience to take in the pugnacious Argentinian’s Deciso opener which lasts a little longer than the Australian composer’s five minutes of piquant burbling. Another Argentinian voice comes through with Golijov’s 1996 Last Round, a two movement construct for string orchestra/nonet in two movements which attempts to imitate the sound of a bandoneon in an elegy-homage to Piazzolla, the title coming from his life-long participation in street fights rather than being a reference to the call that used to echo through the world’s pubs at the end of every night’s excursions into soddenness. As for the nonet, it could include any of the following musicians, bar the essential participation of double bass Phoebe Russell who sits/stands mid-stage between two string quartets: violins Mia Stanton, Sonia Wilson, Nicholas Thin, Natalie Low, Delia Kinmont, and Katie Betts; violas Nicole Greentree and Graham Simpson; cellists Hyung Suk Bae, Kathryn Close and Matthew Kinmont. Naturally, the Beethoven interpreters will come from the above list and the transitional jolt from Buenos Aires to Vienna should be suitably chastening. This program is scheduled to last for 75 minutes and tickets range from $30 (various concessions) to $55, as well as the customary booking fee/theft.


Australian Chamber Orchestra

Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

Monday March 13 at 7 pm

Artistic director Richard Tognetti is once again hosting the Tawadros brothers, Joseph (oud) and James (riq), in this amalgamation where Vivaldi’s four violin concertos will be interspersed with original compositions by Joseph/James and other Baroque works from Italy and the Ottoman Empire. You’d be right (and probably happy) to suspect that the seasonal sequence will be given straight, not re-interpreted Max Richter style. The questions rise with the interpolations as the Tawadros brothers and Tognetti aim to offer Venice and the Near East as musical companions. Well, they’re certainly geographically closer than Australia and Finland and were assuredly more intertwined commercially than Nepal and Chile. Aesthetically? A bit of a stretch. Musically? I’m having a lot of trouble finding the Ottoman in Vivaldi (or in the Gabrielis or in Monteverdi); conversely, I can’t see the Baroque contribution to the Tawadros’ Permission to Evaporate or The Hour of Separation albums. In the preparatory playlist provided on the ACO website for this event, you can hear the essential Seasons, as well as some Vivaldi additions – the final Presto from the Op. 3 No. 6 in A minor plus the Recitative/Grave and final Allegro from the Grosso Mogul concerto. The only other Venetian track is a motet by Legrenzi: Lumi, potete piangere; perhaps Tognetti & Co. will be surprising us with a vocalist – or one of the multi-talented Tawadros brothers will turn his hand to this plangent Baroquerie. Speaking of the Ottoman contribution, we will hear five original Tawadros compositions (the inference from the playlist being that they will come in part from the above-mentioned albums), as well as a Turkish concerto called izia semaisi (by Toderini?) and an Ottoman march with the bellicose title Der Makham-i-Rehavi Cember-i Koca (I’m a tad worried about that Der). Not looking a pair of gift horses in their mouths, but I’m not sure where the guest brothers’ work really fits in with the Eastern components of this program, mainly because their own compositions are an individualistic blend of Arabian sounds with Western emotional tropes. It makes for a beguiling melange but one that stretches even further the relationship between East and West, musical Venice and anything heard in the 16th and 17th centuries from Turkey to Egypt. Still, the composite makes an intriguing envelope for Vivaldi’s series of brief tone-poems. This event is scheduled to last for two hours and tickets range from $25 to $159, as well as the compulsory booking fee that spices up the whole experience of concert-going.


Ensemble Trivium

Old Museum Building

Thursday March 16 at 7 pm

This expandable group is presenting a set of works involving flute, viola, cello and piano in various combinations. As for its participants, flautist Monika Koerner takes part in four of the evening’s five works; cellist Katherine Philp will be heard in three, as will violist Yoko Okayasu; pianist Allie Wang performs in two. You can probably glean from the title that we’ll get to enjoy some Haydn: a flute/cello/piano trio, Hob XV:16 in D Major, in three movements with the central one in D minor. The concluding work is a Prelude, recitatif et variations by Durufle, that highly self-critical French composer’s only chamber work; this involves Koerner, Okayasu and Wang. Between these masterful products come three varied scores. Caroline Shaw’s Limestone and Felt was written in 2012, a viola/cello duet that follows a pizzicato sound production for most of its six minutes with a few bowed arpeggios (representing the fabric?). Brisbane composer Connor D’Netto‘s parallel involves flute and viola following a 12-minute process of changing and becoming – into what, is anyone’s guess. And leading into the Durufle will be Guillaume Connesson’s 2002 Toccata nocturne for flute and cello: slightly over three minutes of mainly subterranean whistles and quick whispers. The recital is projected to last an hour – which it might with some pre-performance chats. Tickets range from $22 to $52 but the inevitable additional charge is a few cents over $1 – which might even be justifiable.


Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

Friday March 17 at 11:30 am

The titular instrument refers to that employed in Grieg’s Piano Concerto: for my money, the greatest show pony in the repertoire – and the easiest, as far as interpretative depth is concerned. My first ever CD was Dinu Lipatti’s recording of this work, unloaded on me by a French teacher with a penchant for making money on the side. Having paid through the nose for it, I listened to the recording until it wore out. But the concerto was also an accessible orchestral concert favourite for decades, until it fell by the wayside as being too popular. Tonight, Grieg’s four-bar-phrase extravaganza is paired with the Brahms Symphony No. 1 – a long time a-coming but a rewarding source of discovery and delight in the right hands; and, in several senses, the most effective of the four. For the concerto, the soloist will be Sergio Tiempo, a Venezuelan-born musician with an impressive discography. He has appeared in Brisbane before, apparently, with his sister, duo-pianisting for the QSO under Alondra de la Parra. The steadiest of hands, Johannes Fritzsch, principal guest conductor for this orchestra, will take us through the concerto and symphony, prefacing the lot with an Impromptu, after Schubert by Richard Mills, produced in 2014 and premiered in Tasmania. This is not an orchestral refurbishment of one of the 8 Impromptus but a meditation on fragments from two lieder – one I know (Auf dem Wasser zu singen) and one I don’t (Ariette) – with a few additional references emerging from the Unfinished Symphony and the Winterreise cycle. A lot of material to ferret out, in other words. Tickets range from $89 to $105, with concessions available as well as the usual credit card charge, here coming in at over $7.

This concert will be repeated on Saturday March 18 at 7:30 pm. This event has more seats available, from $90 to $ 130 – also with concessions and the credit card compulsory tip.


Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Studio, South Brisbane

Tuesday March 21 at 7:30 pm

Putting their guest artist to use – just as the ABC used to do, pairing concerto appearances with a recital – the QSO powers-that-be here re-present Sergio Tiempo in solo mode. His program is half-Chopin (this pianist made a splash with his CDs of this composer’s music – some of it) and half-South American, with Piazzolla featuring twice while worthwhile masters like Villa-Lobos and Ginastera get one look-in each. Oh, and one of the Pizzollas is Muerte del Angel which has been thrashed into oblivion (sorry) by too many musicians of minimal ability. Anyway, the Chopin will involve three preludes (Nos. 3, 15 and 16 from Op. 28 [where else?]), two etudes (No. 6 from Op. 10 and the No. 1 Aeolian Harp heading Op. 25), and the last sonata, that in B minor. Moving well south of the border after interval, Tiempo starts with Venezuelan Moises Moleiro’s Joropo, a brief 6/8 romp in D minor. The two Piazzolla pieces follow, the other being Fuga y Misterio which has been extracted from the composer’s opera Maria de Buenos Aires. A rarely-encountered name in serious music is that of Brazilian writer Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose moody song Retrato em Branco e Preto has been arranged for himself by Tiempo. A more familiar Brazilian voice arrives with Villa-Lobos whose offering comprises excerpts from his 1918 The Dolls, Book 1 in the three-part cycle A Prole de Bebe. You (well, Tiempo, actually) choose between dolls made from porcelain, papier-mache, clay, rubber, wood, rag, cloth – and Punch for a possible gender-imbalance leavening. Last element of all comes Ginastera’s feisty Malambo of 1940, an Argentinian response to Moleiro’s piece but more aggressive and blessed with a powerfully discordant conclusion. Tickets range from $30 (child) to $75 (adult); the surcharge is now up to $7.95, regardless of your concessionary status.


Ensemble Q

The Raven Cellar, 400 Montague Rd., West End

Tuesday March 28 at 7 pm

Second in an off-shoot series distinct from the main Ensemble events, this recital presents two artists: harpist Emily Granger and cellist Trish Dean. Details about their program are sketchy but Falla’s Suite populaire espagnole appears; it might as well as it’s been arranged for a large number of instrumental combinations. The composer himself and Paul Kochanski put the collection together from Falla’s original Siete canciones populares espagnolas, leaving out the Seguidilla murciana. As well, Dean gets to swoop through Saint-Saens’ The Swan, that near-immobile chunk carved out from the Carnival of the Animals. And we are also promised Granville Bantock’s Hebrew melody, Hamabdil, in the composer’s own cello/harp arrangement. When you go looking, there’s not much music that was specifically written for this duo combination, but the three works promised are unobjectionable. So much so that you’d expect Granger and Dean to show high competence at fleshing out a program scheduled to last for two hours. Perhaps a few solos will be inserted along the way? Tickets range from $22.49 (student, and prepare to stand) to $70.14 (adult), into which prices a graduated booking fee has already been added. Nice to see that somebody is trying to preserve a modicum of social responsibility.