Australian concerts & recordings

Ambassadors write reviews on classical music concerts, books, releases, films and experiences.

Consort 8 was a joyful noyse with first-class playing and singing

With all the discordant noise coming out of Canberra these days, not to mention natural disasters around the world, an evening where one can push all this out of the conscious mind and sink into some ‘joyful noyse’ was most…

 
Soirées Musicales Quintette – sanctuary on a Sunday afternoon

As a winter wind whipped through Brisbane swirling leaves and dust, Saint Mary’s Anglican Church in Kangaroo Point provided a serene backdrop to a charming performance by Soirées Musicales Quintette. Founded in 2015, the Brisbane-based ensemble enhances the romantic classical…

 
Celebrating Ross Edwards’ 75th Birthday

Birthday invitations are not to be sneezed at and it was a privilege to be part of a celebration of Ross Edwards’ seventy fifth year at City Recital Hall. He is probably Australia’s best known contemporary composer with Peter Sculthorpe…

 
Bel a cappella showed unbounded enthusiasm for the carefully chosen music appreciated by a grateful audience

This was the second in Bel a cappella’s annual season and I was lucky enough to hear the first. Running since 1995, they have set high standards for an amateur group throughout. Sunday’s concert was held in the Catholic Church…

 
Flinders Quartet was perfectly balanced for the theatrical nature of the works

Two Australian composers were featured in the Flinders Quartet concert at Independent Theatre more as arrangers than presenting new music but highly successful nonetheless. Calvin Bowman’s The Curly Pyjama Letters with text by Michael Leunig presents 7 whimsical snippets from…

 
Rags, Bags and Tangos with Deborah de Graaff (clarinet) and Tonya Lemoh (piano) is carefully chosen pieces played exquisitely

There are so many wonderful things about this recording. It is played exquisitely. The ensemble between de Graaff and Lemoh is impeccable. The carefully chosen collection of pieces makes a great listening experience. And there is a nice balance between…

 
Backstage Music was an ideal way to finish the week

BackStage Music on Friday night was exactly what my brother and I needed. The week had been fairly crazy and we needed to mentally close the door, allowing the weekend door to open. For me, choosing what to do with…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble joined by Simon Martyn-Ellis was an impressive delight

The AHE has been around now for about 6 years and it continues to be one of Australia’s premier early music groups. Often they present ensembles of a larger scale but in this concert it was decidedly “chamber” with the…

 
Wonderful surprises abounded at Consort 8’s Fratres.

I’ve been to enough Consort 8 concerts to know three things about them. Firstly, the standard of performance is tops – fabulous recorders, skilful playing of viols, lutes and theorbo, and where else are you going to get a gaggle…

 
Audiences exhilarated by Willoughby Symphony Choir’s The Seasons

While Joseph Haydn had a long and successful musical career, his personal life was not so great. He rarely saw his parents after moving in with his friend Johann Spangler as a teenager and he had a long but unhappy childless…

 
Michael Tsalka joins ThoroughBass – It was wonderful to hear such a virtuoso of the harpsichord

The Israeli harpsichordist Michael Tsalka was the featured artist at this concert at the Mosman Art Gallery, and what a coup it was for a small local group to perform with such an outstanding international artist. Thorough Bass, under the…

 
Superlative Chamber Music Making from the Australian World Orchestra

The Australian World Orchestra was formed in 2011 under the patronage of Sir Charles Mackerras, comprising Australian musicians playing in local state orchestras and overseas in international symphony orchestras. Sadly, the group only plays for one week a year in Australia, but has…

 
Wonderful musicianship from Bach Akademie Australia

The huge audience that attended the concert by the Bach Akademie Australia in the St Francis of Assisi Church Paddington are great supporters of the music of Bach and also enthusiastic for the success of this newly formed specialist group.…

 
Coro Austral hosted an exhilarating evening

What an exhilarating evening hosted by Coro Austral at St Augustine’s Church in Balmain. Coro is a Sydney based amateur chamber choir which specializes in music of Hispanic origin. Their bubbling director, Margot McLaughlin, kept us fully informed before each piece and clearly…

 
Bel a cappella performed JS Bach’s Chaconne with sensitive singing that captivated the listeners

The near capacity audience for Bel a cappella at the historic Christ Church St Lawrence were treated to a concert by an ever improving community choir singing repertoire that suits their skill set and creating a performance that shone. Musical…

 
Song Company’s Bryd Round Table at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art after Hours

On entering the Art Gallery of NSW entrance hall on Tuesday evening the audience was seated around a small stage containing a table set with goblets, wine and candles. We are all invited, Artistic Director Anthony Pitts tells us, to…

 
Selby and Friends’ Beethoven by ballot was a great concert of audience favourites

Kathryn Selby put together yet another intriguing programme, on this occasion based on one composer’s works. She is, of course, an accomplished pianist in her own right and her reputation enables her to lure top class international and local performers…

 
The Opus Now concerts at Alpha Gallery are a treat

In a program with a new work by an Australian composer it would be easy to gloss over a Beethoven string quartet, the Razumovsky Opus 59/1, but the Opus Now concert at the small and very intimate Alpha Gallery in…

 
Anna McMichael and Daniel de Borah’s ‘In other words’

A new recording on the independent Australian label, Tall Poppies, showcasing transcriptions for violin and piano, is cleverly and most appropriately named “In Other Words“. Both violinist, Anna McMichael, and pianist, Daniel de Borah, are well-known and well-credentialled Australian musicians.…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Beethoven Piano Concertos 1 & 3

Forming part of a series of reconstructions, Peres Da Costa with the Australian Haydn Ensemble, performing all of Beethoven’s piano concertos, this recording of the 1st and 3rd concertos is remarkable for a number of reasons. Principal of these is…

 
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s spectacular Thomas Tallis’ England

I had been looking forward to reviewing this concert ever since the 2018 brochure appeared in my letterbox. English music of around 400 years ago is simply divine. It’s the music of Shakespeare’s time, and the music dramatic. Our program…

 
Ensemble Three was an adventure through nature

Ensemble Three played to a full house in the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre. An unusual ensemble of a trumpet, trombone and guitar, I rather anticipated something closer to swing or jazz. Instead the concert was an adventure through…

 
Sydney Baroque Music Festival: Musical Pilgrims

This was the culminating concert of a week’s summer school for young musicians from all over Australia and New Zealand, specialising in early music. The week was under the mentorship of The Muffat Collective. The tutors Rafael Font (violin), Anton…

 
Jennifer Eriksson produces two for the price of one – Marais Project and Elysian Fields in one concert

We have been following Jennifer Eriksson’s “Marais Project” since its inception. Marin Marais (1656-1728) was a prolific viola da gamba player and composer. He wrote many volumes of gamba music. In the year 2000 Ericsson set herself the ambitious task…

 
Peninsula Summer Music Festival: Bach Violin Sonatas

Three of Bach’s sonatas for violin and obligato harpsichord were presented in this concert, the C minor with its beautiful opening movement, B minor and the G major. No programme was given so we relied on the information mostly supplied…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble’s playing was perfection

There is always a sense of relief when you arrive in your seats at Angel Place after having passed the god-awful infernal din emanating from the Ivy night club, and there is that magic moment of pure silence just before…

 
Consort 8’s A Renaissance Christmas was a fabulous start to the Season

We’ve all heard of the recorder, and many can recognise a viol da gamba, lute, and theorbo when they see one. But how about a cittern? Or a psaltery? And a tapan? All featured in the fabulous Consort 8 concert…

 
Hoang Pham brilliance tempered by a fine balance and propriety with Zelman Symphony Orchestra

It was a dark and stormy night (well early Summer evening actually) and to get to the Melbourne Recital Centre involved some dashing across dark glisteningly wet black streets, Melbourne was experiencing one of its stormiest beginnings to Summer for…

 
Josie & the Emeralds Celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Music with a fascinating and rich program

Josie (Josie Ryan, Soprano) and the Emeralds (four viol da gamba players) first presented a special program honouring Lady Music in 2014. It was such a success with their audience, the Emeralds decided to make it an annual event. Some…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir 2018 Season Launch

Fresh from supporting the Sydney Flash Mob Choir on Wednesday evening (15th November) at the City Recital Hall, the Sydney Chamber Choir, arguably one of this country’s finest choral ensembles, launched their 2018 program with their own quintessential mixture of…

 
Coro Austral celebrate Love, Loss and Remembrance

On the eve of their Cuban tour, Coro Austral, conducted Artistic Director Margot McLaughlin, presented a concert pillared by the Mass For the Dead by Portuguese composer Manuel Cardoso. The clear acoustics of the Redfern Town Hall and its simple…

 
Bel a cappella – sumptuous choral music in spades

Bel a cappella’s final concert for 2017 took its name from Arnold Schonberg’s 1907 score Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth). This harmonically rich and highly romantic work in four parts received not only a rare airing in Sydney but…

 
Balmain Baroque were engaging with a delightful program

On a hot and seemingly ‘summer-esque’ and seriously smouldering Sunday at St Peters Presbyterian Church in North Sydney, the well-known Balmain Baroque presented a delightful program of Vivaldi, Handel, Quantz, Mattheson and two of the most underappreciated composers of the…

 
One Woman and Two Divas is a magical evening combining generous and personal

What a truly magical evening of musical theatre, opera, unique music and gourmet food in a corrugated iron shed seemingly in the middle of nowhere! While the weather outside was a little frightful, it was absolutely delightful under the glass…

 
Sydney Mozart Society hosts Enigma Quartet and Timothy Nankervis

This was the last concert of the Sixty Seventh year of the Mozart Society and it was appropriate that, in contrast to recent programmes, we were treated to works familiar to many listeners. The Enigma Quartet has been playing for…

 
Con Opera & Opera Australia: Mozart’s The Magic Flute

Mozart’s The Magic Flute was popularly received and critically acclaimed when it premiered in Vienna, in 1791. Mozart attended the performances multiple times and delighted in the popular reception. However, he died a mere 2 months after the opera’s premiere.…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Beethoven’s Emperor arranged by Vi King Lim

How better to spend a rather chilly, drizzly, overcast Saturday afternoon in Sydney than to attend a concert given by the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE), a group specialising in historically-informed performances of late Baroque and early Classical music on period…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir and The Muffat Collective lamented – but the audience did not

Love indeed knows no boundaries – and the music heard tonight was some of the most sorrowful on earth, but sung and played with such beauty. Lamentations and libations (at interval) were promised and the capacity Great Hall audience did…

 
Sydney Mozart Society arrange to please and Southern Cross Soloists performance excellent throughout

There must be a tremendous amount of planning that goes into the programming of Sydney Mozart Society concerts. At Chatswood Concourse on Friday, there was a programme that consisted largely of familiar works arranged for unusual combinations of instruments. These…

 
A Twinkling Star in the Sydney Music Scene

On Sunday 8 October, local musician (clavichord, fortepiano, traverso) Ivan Foo presented An Evening with Mozart at St Mark’s Church in Hunters Hill. This is the second concert by Ivan Foo that I have attended, and it appeared many in…

 
Alan Holley’s Doppler’s Web is wonderfully chaotic

An intense listening experience- wonderfully chaotic, musically inspiring, a showcase of the talents of some fantastic musicians and a wonderful collection of Alan Holley’s compositions.

 
Kathryn Selby has friends a-plenty – exemplary trio performance and brilliantly constructed programme

Kathryn Selby is not short of friends – the quality of her pianism and selection of her programmes is testament to that as is the number of her fans.

 
Consort 8 have tremendous flexibility to programme unusual and rarely heard works

A veritable feast of delicious 16th and 17th Century works, most of them from Spain and Italy, were served up to a full hall.

 
Song Company’s Dreamers of the Day was non-stop entertainment

The concert, or maybe a more accurate description, the entertainment Dreamers of the Day presented by The Song Company is a 75 minute near non-stop journey through bits and pieces of music from Handel and Bach to the present day.…

 
Australia Piano Quartet | Innocence and Experience in composition and interpretation

The Australia Piano Quartet has been the Ensemble in Residence a the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) since 2012. They have toured throughout Europe and Asia and have given concerts at the Barbican and Wigmore Hall in London. Their specialties…

 
Sydney Mozart Society | Memorable evening from Duncan Gifford and friends

Duncan Gifford now lives in Madrid but returns to his native Australia annually. He has the distinction of being the highest placed Australian in the Sydney Piano Competition when he came third in 1992 as well as numerous other competition…

 
BackStage Music was riveting throughout

We found our way on a cold winters night to a dark, dingy Darlinghurst lane with a steel roller shutter door and wondered what we had let ourselves in for. Inside however, we found a cosy space with chairs and…

 
Australian Chamber Choir was a treat!

Sometimes you go to a concert and after just a few seconds know you are in for a treat. Lucky me, I had that experience with this, my first encounter with the Australian Chamber Choir. This exciting ensemble of young…

 
Bel a cappella and Australian Baroque Brass were insightful and shone

Bel a cappella’s concert billed Motetten was, for me, memorable for a work that was not a motet – Paul Hindemith’s Apparebit repentina dies (1947) for choir and eight brass players. This 25 minute work shows Hindemith writing life affirming…

 
Three’s Midnight Songs recording brings additional layers of satisfaction

The CD Midnight Songs by the Melbourne group Three is a wonderful introduction to repertoire that is evolving especially for this ensemble and it should have wide appeal amongst the concertgoers of Australia and overseas. Having heard the group in…

 
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