Chris Cartner’s Resonance concert series is an ideal introduction to instrumental and chamber music. Resident at the beautiful Christ Church, Lavender Bay (right on the Harbour, it’s surely got to have one of the best views of any church in the world), Chris has assembled a dedicated subscriber base that meet regularly to enjoy fine music and a glass of wine afterwards in the leafy church courtyard.
Informal mood, genuine warmth and mutually beneficial relationship
Where this concert series really differs from many others is its relatively informal mood; Chris is able to get up from the piano and speak about each piece before he performs it, illuminating the music without the need for the dreaded impersonality of the program note. There’s a genuine warmth and mutually beneficial relationship between audience and performer at these concerts, which is sadly absent at many art music concerts in Sydney.
Sparkling, dramatic, colour, texture, elegant
The dazzling piano music of Franz Liszt (the world’s first rock star) was the offering for October, handled solo by Cartner himself.
The Hungarian Rhapsody was an ideal introduction, sparkling and dramatic and played with compelling recklessness. The swift changes of colour and texture in the Concert Etude were particularly elegant; Cartner carefully teased out melodies from keyboard-spanning bursts of finger work like it was second nature in a purposeful and well-structured performance.
The Ballade No. 2, a study in thematic transformation, led a desolate minor-key melody through expressive chorales and a turbulent development into a sunny major-key recap. Cartner’s meticulous attention to melodic detail is where he really shines as a musician; minor inaccuracies in technical execution never overshadow his innate gift for melody.
This sublime sensibility was again brought to the fore in Consolation, a work which exploits the resonance afforded by the piano’s middle (sostenuto) pedal. Each phrase spoke with passion and indelible beauty, rising and falling with millisecond precision.
The Mephisto Waltz, while occasionally feeling rushed and not quite under Cartner’s control, still displayed a fine musical restraint in which the dark minor seconds of the main theme were seductively executed and effectively juxtaposed against violent, percussive bounces and flurries of agitated compound time figures.
All in all a most enjoyable concert experience – I’ll certainly be back to see what Chris has up his sleeve for 2015.
Christ Church, Lavender Bay
October 31 2014, 6pm
Chris Cartner, piano