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 Leunig spoken over music basically from earlier eras of music history. The writing for the quartet is simply a background so that Chris Moore could weave ‘sweet nothings’ about flowers and birds and statements of friendship and longing.
Here and in Iain Grandage’s arrangement of some music from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck’s Dream) Moore was a mesmerising narrator/actor. Texts from different parts of Shakespeare’s fantasy play allowed Moore to enchant his audience and take them on this most intriguing ride through Puck’s grand ‘imaginings’. I hope the members of the quartet don’t mind me saying so but Moore stole the first half of the concert with his charm and impish acting and still had time to play the viola!
Both these works seem just perfect for the Arts Festival circuit and indeed Puck’s Dream should be compulsory for high school students of Shakespeare. The quartet playing was perfectly balanced for the theatrical nature of the works.
The main work in the concert was the String Quintet Op.111/2 in G by Johannes Brahms. This is music where rich harmonies and arching melodic lines are interspersed with intricate compositional developments creating a musical journey of intense interest.
The Flinders Quartet is in a transition mode with guest first violinists in the 2018 season. In this concert Nicholas Waters (violin), Helen Ireland (viola) and Zoe Knighton (cello) were joined by violinist Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba as well as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Principal Viola Chris Moore as the extra violist in the quintet. The energy of the group and the cohesion was as if they have all been playing together for years. Ireland and Knighton provide a rich and luxuriant base in this deeply romantic composition for the upper strings to ply their melodic musings.
The next program for the Flinders Quartet has music by Mendelssohn and Andrew Ford performed by Violins Nicholas Waters & Wilma Smith, Viola Helen Ireland, Cello Zoe Knighton:
- SOUTHBANK Thursday 8 November, 7.00pm
- ELTHAM Sunday 11 November, 2.30pm
- MELBOURNE Tuesday 13 November, 1.00pm
- BENDIGO Wednesday 14 November, 7.30pm