From Thursday to Saturday last week I had a broad range of musical experiences. From Don Pasquale, to Michael Kieran Harvey and the Flying Dutchman.
Part 1 was Opera Australia: Don Pasquale
Here is Part 2
On Friday I went to an all Australian new music program presented by Michael Kieran Harvey at Carriageworks. The first piece was by Raymond Hanson, now virtually forgotten as a composer, but who was a long time piano teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium. His Piano Sonata, Op. 12, written in the 1940s, but not published until after his death (1963) was radical for its time but seemed somewhat conservative now.
The second piece was by Harvey himself, titled Psychosonata, it was commissioned by the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. I am not sure what they would have made of it although Freud might have given it an interesting interpretation. It was a virtuosic etude but with less emotional impact than the Hanson piece but superbly played, nevertheless.
The conventional approach of programming is the work from the most difficult to the more immediately palatable. Harvey reversed this and played the most challenging work – both to the pianist and the audience – last. The piece was titled Inferno (after Dante) by Elliot Gyger who was in the audience to hear the world premiere. The cycle consists of etudes on the nine Circles of Hell as originally conceived by Dante. It is snarling, screeching piece where the pianist screeches along with some of the music. The voice of the pianist becomes the accompaniment to what is being produced by the hands. I was transfixed, as seemed most of a large and appreciative audience.
I knew Michael Harvey was a virtuoso and a long time exponent of ‘new’ music, but I was overwhelmed by both his virtuosity and his passion. He has chosen a difficult path to be an independent musician. Yes his programs are a challenge but well worth the effort of audiences prepared to open it ears.