The Sydney Consort, ‘The Mannheim School’, Friday 14 November, Balmain
‘Come and experience the sound of the emerging clarinet in the Mannheim School’ says the promotional blurb, and so we did in a delightful evening concert by Sydney Consort in Balmain’s St Augustine’s Catholic Church. Despite a last minute change from cello to recorder, and a resulting rejig in repertoire, the evening was a special journey through the period, each piece showcasing aspects of the school itself.
Two Stamitz men
Not surprisingly then, the first two pieces were by the two generations of Stamitz men – founder Johann and Karl, Johann’s son, which began the concert. A magical Quartetto in F Major filled the resonant church, with specialist early music recorder player Hans-Dieter Michatz’s playful and crisp playing leading the melodic homophonic texture of the piece, a characteristic of the school. Lawrence Dobell, principal clarinet with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, beautifully performed the clarinet lines to show the early development of the instrument itself.
Johann Stamitz’s Sonate in D Major featured Sydney Consort Artistic Directors harpsichordist Monika Kornel and violinist Stan Kornel on their period instruments, as their rich and adept lines told a musical story of synchronicity and perfect phrasing. Franz Danzi’s Sonate Concertante in B flat Major for clarinet and harpsichord showed again Dobell’s gorgeous feel and virtuosity. After Toeschi’s Trio in A Major and Ignaz Holzbauer’s Sinfonia a Tre, it was time for ‘the sound of greatness” as Stan Kornel announced Mozart’s Sonate in G Major KV27, one of his ‘childhood violin sonatas for keyboard and violin’. Written when he was only nine years old, and performed and published in The Hague in 1766 when he was only ten, the longer violin phrases immediately stood out with Monika’s stirring playing on her cherished French Double Harpsichord.
A perfect musical dialogue
Holzbauer’s Quartet in C Minor brought the four players together again, with a perfect musical dialogue between recorder and clarinet finishing the evening. The Sydney Consort certainly live up to their reputation of ‘an energetic ensemble devoted to early music with high energy performers’ – their passion and sheer joy of bringing early music to life is incredibly rewarding.
Catch Sydney Consort for an Irish Baroque celebration on 20 February in 2015 in Balmain.