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Australia Ensemble UNSW | Ecstatic Science

16 September 2023 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm AEST

When Frederick the Great presented ‘old Bach’ with an idiosyncratic theme to improvise upon, he can’t have foreseen the composer’s 12-part compendium of counterpoint, which revels in the purely abstract patterns of note against note and line against line. Bach improvised the three-voice Ricercar on the spot, and later wrote the six-voice piece, one of the most extraordinary works of its type. Paul Stanhope has arranged it for the ensemble. US composer Missy Mazzoli also enjoys the play of abstraction. In her fascinating and beautiful Ecstatic Science ‘chord progressions are drawnout, multiplied, condensed, and layered. Melodies are flipped upside-down… the horizontal becomes vertical.’ Nigel Westlake’s Piano Trio has the same elegant organisation, delighting in intricate mosaics of metrical patterns, and deeply-felt lyricism. Chemist Alexander Borodin saw pattern as structure, inventing the aldol reaction to create carbon-carbon bonds. As a composer (and one of the ‘Mighty Handful’) he was unapologetically Romantic and Russian, as we hear in his tuneful, open-hearted Piano Quintet.


J.S. BACH | Ricercar a 3 BWV1079/1 (1747)

Nigel WESTLAKE | Piano Trio (2003)

J.S. BACH | Ricercar a 6 (1747) trans. Stanhope (2022)

Missy MAZZOLI | Ecstatic Science (2016)

Alexander BORODIN | Piano Quintet in C minor (1862)


David Griffiths, clarinet; Dene Olding, violin; Dimity Hall, violin; Irina Morozova, viola; Julian Smiles, cello and Ian Munro, piano

With Emeritus artist Geoffrey Collins, flute; and guest artist David Elton, trumpet


Australia Ensemble UNSW
(02) 9385 4874
View Organiser Website


UNSW: Sir John Clancy Auditorium, Kensington
High St & Wansey Rd
Kensington, NSW 2052 Australia
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