Australian concerts & recordings

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

Bravo and congratulations to everyone at Con Opera for La Calisto

La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli is a beautiful opera in three acts, ripe for fun and games. Characters hide and overhear things they shouldn’t, dresses are taken on an off, and cross dressing is de rigeur! It’s all typical of…

An evening of beautiful music from Eusebius and Florestan

The Friends of Eusebius and Florestan – a name which represents the contrasting dreamy and passionate natures of Robert Schumann – produced a performance of Schubert at the Northcote Town Hall which wended amiably and comfortably through these contrasting styles.…

Wolfgang Steffen’s composition superbly recorded at Sydney Conservatorium of Music

I’ve been enjoying my super music dictionary, the 29 volume New Grove II, for about eight years, but this is the first time I’ve noticed a typo, as I read the entry for Wolfgang Steffen. It’s not an insignificant one,…

Ayşe Goknur Shanal and Andrea Katz present Les Chemins De l’Amour

From the moment that Ayşe Goknur Shanal entered the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House we were transported through song from a sparkling autumnal Sydney Harbour, to the shores of Italy, Spain, Argentina and France. Les Chemins de l’Amour brought…

A Balancing Act: The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa

I was sad to miss the first collaboration in 2015 of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa. Who doesn’t like a circus? This time I was looking forward to hearing some old tunes from the Brandenburg’s CD Tapas and some…

Sirius Chamber Ensemble bring many Musical Tales to life with caring, exciting and authoritative performances

This recital by the Sirius Chamber Ensemble was as much about words as it was music. Each of the five works had spoken text and their success as integrated compositions was due in the main to the quality of the…

Sydney Mozart Society presents Australia Piano Quartet

Chatswood on a Friday night is buzzing with the night food markets and people heading out for time with their family and friends. Climbing the stairs to the concourse is like heading up to the temple, where one can see…

Pacific Opera’s Race for the Sky showcases our emerging singers

What do you do? You’ve spent three to four years working hard on your voice to perform some of the greatest music in the world to the best of your ability. Then what? Sydney is lucky to have Pacific Opera…

Josie & The Emeralds’ Monteverdi and the Golden Age was a delight

The singer Josie Ryan and the viol consort The Emeralds are doing a series of concerts this year to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s birth. Monteverdi’s music stands at the cusp between the Renaissance and the Baroque and…

Sydney Chamber Choir’s German Romantics was an amazing concert of flawless music

I first met young conductor Sam Allchurch on a tour bus in 2003, travelling around the United States with Gondwana Voices. Tonight’s guest conductor would sit next to me on the bus and we discuss in detail the music we…

Flinders Quartet’s Schubert in the South was over too soon

Flinders Quartet is such a well-established ensemble on the Melbourne, and indeed Australian, music scene that one might be tempted to view an evening with them as ‘just another performance’ but how wrong that would be! Thursday evening at The…

Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra provided an evening of joy and wonder leading the audience through a soundscape rich in deep emotional resonance

The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) brought a touch of Italian Romance to the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday night, and it was an evening of joy and wonder for all. A trio of…

Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Boccherini Night Streets – authentic HIPsters at atmospheric Cell Block Theatre

After a prolonged run of wet weather in Sydney, the sun shone brightly for the first concert of the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s 2017 season. It featured the works of WA Mozart, Luigi Boccherini, and Giuseppe Cambini, either arranged for or…

Gavriel Lipkind’s Bible of the Cello

Occasionally you attend a solo recital that reaffirms your belief in the importance of the genre and the concert at the packed Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House by the cellist Gavriel Lipkind was one of those events. A…

Streeton Trio lifted the heart, gladdened the soul and played in complete accord

The long line-up outside the Independent Theatre well before opening time augured well for the afternoon’s events, indicating that the regulars know the quality of the lavish afternoon tea provided as part of the afternoon’s entertainment. The ‘Prelude in Tea’…

Three: an evening of open, intelligent, intuitively understandable, whimsical, and purposeful music

Whimsical, Intelligent and Difficult. This is how Don Immel, on the Trombone for Three, a unique ensemble seeking to challenge and expand the chamber music space with their combination of brass and guitar, characterised both the final piece on offer…

The Muffat Collective started the season with a concert filled with discoveries

I first heard the newly-formed Muffat Collective play in the Live Broadcast Studio of radio station Fine Music FM 102.5 late last year and was most impressed. They announced themselves as the latest group of historically-informed performers of seventeenth and…

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra staged Handel’s Messiah is a showpiece

“He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!” The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra stage Handel’s Messiah. It’s a momentous occasion, a season opening concert, and what better than to launch with the masterpiece that is George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. I…

‘Masterpieces’ concert by Thomas Heywood was seamless

Thomas Heywood’s choice of repertoire on Saturday 18 February at Kelvin Grove College Theatre, presented by TOSA QLD (Theatre Organ Society of Australia QLD), was varied and impressive. The first piece, The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an…

Omega Ensemble: it is hard to imagine a better performance of the Haydn and Mozart pieces in a more beautiful venue

The Utzon Room with its sweeping harbour views behind the stage is always a favourite venue for its dreamy atmosphere. Having the Omega ensemble present this delightful program here was a treat.

Song Company Accidental Plan’s engaged the audience from beginning to end

Listening to the Song Company in the Yellow House, Potts Point was for many in the audience a trip back in time. Revisiting works and composers that were played on a regular basis in Sydney in the seventies this cabaret…

Multiple Keyboards showcased modern works on 4 grands and 3 toy pianos

An inspiring concert in an interesting venue and the repertoire was engaging. This was apparently the third such concert; if there are more, I will be there!

Zelman Symphony showed Stefan Cassomenos in fine form for a Scandinavian theme

Pianist Stefan Cassomenos strode on stage to warm applause, and left it to a thunderous ovation some 30 minutes later.

Omega Ensemble’s debut recording on ABC Classics is interesting and polished

The famous and much-loved Clarinet Quintet of Mozart, and two contemporary pieces composed by fellow Australians, Ian Munro and George Palmer.

Josie & The Emeralds celebrating St Cecilia with Viols, Voice, and Organ

Their concerts are always an uplifting and joyful experience. Amy Johansen playing organ really added to the celebration of the life of St Cecilia.

Enigma Quartet showed marvellous interplay at The Independent Theatre

A fairly young but accomplished string quartet named The Enigma Quartet presented the monthly Prelude in Tea concert at The Independent Theatre in North Sydney on a warm spring afternoon.

The Evergreen Ensemble with Chris Norman and David Greenberg

The eclectic mix of music in this concert was a good light hearted toe-tapping experience. Catch them if they appear in your glen.

ThoroughBass Cock Crow brings Rosemary Dobson’s poetry to concert format

The concert is intimate and personal. The blend of poetry and strings is a fine choice, as the attack of the keyboard reflects the accuracy of the chosen poetic words.

Forest Collective’s Pierrot Lunaire had voices weave beautifully around each other

The Forest Collective is one to watch out for and I hope you are able to join them for future concerts.

Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket – excellent musicianship bringing new music to life

Impressive concert for the brave choice of new music, excellent musicianship and dedication to bring it to life. Great Sydney has groups so enthusiastically dedicated to sharing new music.

Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket festival: innovation, diversity and pushing boundaries

Giving access to the world of new music. The exploratory nature of Ensemble Offspring is important to the future of music making, both generally and in Australia specifically.

Acacia Quartet’s ‘Harbour Light’ program was thoroughly fascinating and engaging

Acacia Quartet approach music with humility and an invitation to the listener to engage. This is a great quality in a quartet. Long may it reign and have more of this brave programming and wonderful performance.

Omega Ensemble finished the year with an evening of superb music brilliantly played

A balmy evening at Angel Place was a great setting for an appealing programme given by the well-credentialled Omega ensemble and titled “Three Parts Mozart”.

Con Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte: A fly in and fly out experience

The production and the talents of the singers and the instrumentalists, all in all a well calculated and performed ‘hoot’!

AHE’s Beethoven Symphony No 2 was convincing, dedicated and enthusiastic

The performance of the Second Symphony the ensemble produced a big sound for the space and is better suited to chamber music arrangement.

Sydney Mozart Society: Australian String Quartet performed a memorable recital with a fully appreciative audience

The Sydney Mozart Society has transformed smoothly to its new Chatswood venue and continues to present enticing programmes which include music by Amadeus himself.

Marais Project are performers at the top of their art form

What’s not to love about an hour of delightful C18th French music on a Sunday afternoon, followed by a glass of complimentary wine and the chance to schmooze with the musicians and fellow concert goers?

Rowden & Raspopova performed with agility a lovely balance of well and lesser known works

Sparkling Sydney Harbour on a beautiful Spring afternoon was a most appropriate backdrop. My first Omega Ensemble concert, made a most favourable impression.

In Callan Park, Song Company & Leichhardt Espresso Chorus explore the history of the iconic Inner West space

In Callan Park, Song Company and Leichhardt Espresso Chorus explore the history of the iconic Inner West green space. A remarkable experience of musical storytelling.

Hamish Gould performed exquisitely with Melbourne Musicians

Dramatic light with the orchestral unison passages supporting the drama. Showed the potential power in his voice, but this was never overdone.

Halcyon premiere Gordon Kerry’s delightful instrumental colours and sensitive vocals

Gordon Kerry’s Three Malouf Songs is a substantial new addition to the repertoire; draws the listener into a world where painterly text stirs Kerry to make music of equal imagination

A Prelude in Tea and Seraphim Trio provided baked and musical delights

An enjoyable and satisfying afternoon – the music and baking delights, and the drinks generously available to all post-concert while mingling with the musicians themselves.

Shunske Sato and the Sen-Sato-tional Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

After a long tiring week, it was a great pleasure to saunter down to the City Recital Hall with a friend and settle in a for a night of romantic music on period instruments. I had been warned to ‘not…

Omega Ensemble interplay was superb in a varied and engaging program

From the first chord Teije Hylkema held the audience’s attention with his commanding stage presence and sonorous and expressive performing.

Margaret Brandman: music that is uplifting, positive or meditative for peace and harmony on the planet

An informal family-and-friends affair with the choreographer Ross Hutchison as the exuberant master of ceremonies. Brandman’s songs are characterised by sonorous tonal piano writing, lyric melodies and even phrasing.

Josie & The Emeralds deliver a first class performance celebrating Shakespeare

Always deliver works I’m unlikely to have heard before (and probably never knew about). Thoughtful programming with a novel twist. Sunday was no exception.

Sydney Mozart Society presents Verbrugghen Ensemble, a distinguished group performing at a high standard with focus and intensity

The performance was of a consistently high standard and musicians maintained their focus and intensity throughout this diverse work

Australia Ensemble concert was a joy of birdsong

Australia Ensemble always fills me with high expectations of consummate musical performances and I was not disappointed. The concert was a joy.

Emilie Lemasson beautifully sang masterpieces of opera and song

Lemasson showed a good strong dark chest register in the opening recitative. The aria ranged across gentle ecstasy, again well controlled pianissimi, difficult roulades and a grand finish.

AYO performance is spirited, secure and professional

There were so many good points about this concert that it is hard to know what to point out over and above anything else.

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