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 brand ‘new’ Spanish baroque works with eight acrobats flying around in the City Recital Hall. What a treat!
Two special guests joined the circus – Italian guitarist and lutenist Stefano Maiorana (Italy is close enough to Spain) and New Zealand soprano Natasha Wilson, whose dark hair and sultry voice was close enough to Spanish for us. The smaller Brandenburg band of all strings and two of the finest percussionists in town – Brian Nixon and Jess Ciampa – were full of energy and on fire, albeit a small fire as they were a little on the piano side rather than the forte I would have liked. Wilson’s voice and stage presence was stunning – singing and moving among the acrobats with ease and completely owning each song.
The festival like show certainly did thrill – at times you nearly forgot there was a musical accompaniment when you were focused on the eight acrobats and their, at times, death-defying acts involving every trick in the circus – high pole reaching to the roof, short bars, big and small boxes, a see saw, silks, ropes, and a wheelbarrow. Well a wheelbarrow is not a usual circus item, but it was my favourite in this performance.
As in any Brandenburg show of late, the costumes were fab and the boys of the band were superbly dressed in peasant attire – they could of come straight from the stage of Opera Australia’s Carmen. Our soprano was elegant in a swishy white dress and the acrobats also in Spanish peasant clothes and girls in dramatic big skirts (which a couple of times might of got caught on the many props or their male counterparts’ heads, but luckily not).
The musical highlight of the night was Isaac Albeniz’s Leyenda ‘Asturias’ played beautifully by Maiorana on baroque guitar with one of the women acrobats appearing to be ‘tormented’ on long ropes, accompanied by amazing percussion evocative of the Wild West. The real highlight for a classikON audience – the chance to clap whenever you felt like it and certainly after every circus trick!
Further performances – Wednesday 10 and Friday 12 May at 7pm,City Recital Hall; plus 12 and 14 May at Melbourne Recital Centre; and 16 May at QPAC in Brisbane. Tickets available on the Brandenburg website.