The Australian Haydn Ensemble is clearly a treasure…

by | May 8, 2023 | Ambassador thoughts, Ensembles, Voice

Australian Haydn Ensemble | The Mozarts, The Haydns and the Bear

April 30, 2023, City Recital Hall, Sydney


Roland Peelman, guest conductor

Jacqueline Porter, soprano

Andrew Goodwin, tenor

Skye McIntosh, lead violin


The Australian Haydn Ensemble’s concert at the City Recital Hall looked on paper to be one that would  suit people who like music from the time of Mozart and Haydn but the audience was given much more than just that as the performances were riveting. Conductor Roland Peelman, orchestra leader Skye McIntosh and harpsichordist Chad Kelly led a concert that just kept giving.

And for me to hear a soprano like Jacqueline Porter with such mastery of her instrument in singing Mozart’s Voi avete un cor fedele was a thrill. When she was joined by the immaculate lead violin Skye McIntosh in a completely delicious performance of L’amerò, sarò constant the delightful experience edged to an even higher level. Porter’s voice soars when necessary, and then can caress the most gentle musical phrase before dazzling with another coloratura passage.

ahe the mozarts the haydns & the bear soloist jacueline porter, soprano, image oliver miller 2

The tenor Andrew Goodwin was finest in Misero! O sogno … Aura che intorno spiri with a perfectly weighted approach to the music. This extended aria let him express the music with tenderness and then with an unrequited passion. An eloquent performance and Goodwin engages the audience so easily.

The youngest son of JS Bach, Johann Christian was a composer who was much advantaged by the change in the European economy of the mid 18th century with the growth of the middleclass and their desire for entertainment. His move to London allowed him to be in the centre of ‘money’ and as he was not tied down to writing music for the church he was able to compose works for concert halls and music-lovers in the secular world.  His Symphony in G minor Op. 6/6 is a happy expression of music written around the same time that Haydn was busying himself with a re-invention of music by creating elegant forms. The AHE played the three contrasting movements superbly with brisk speeds in the outer mvts and a perfectly interpreted Andante.

In a concert that had so much to offer the performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 82 in C major was a standout. Dynamic playing in the helter-skelter sections and sweet lyrical playing in the lovely variation form mvt had the audience transfixed. For me guest conductor Roland Peelman oversaw one of the best performances of Haydn I have ever heard. His tempi were balanced and also driven to the edge but the players of AHE revelled in the excitement of the music. Brilliant flute playing from Melissa Farrow and indeed all the wind and string performers. The horn pair of Carla Blackwood and Doree Dixon was magnificent here and in earlier works such as a little overture by Michael Haydn the onstage/offstage duet was entrancing.  And whenever you see timpanist Brian Nixon on stage you know the driving force is in the best of hands.

ahe the mozarts the haydns & the bear soloist andrew goodwin, tenor, image oliver miller 1.

All the players are specialists in instruments from the time of Haydn and Mozart and they bring to the music a freshness on how the instruments and compositions of that time would sound, though methinks they do it better than their counterparts of those times.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble is clearly a treasure on our cultural scene and I can only imagine that their next concerts will be amazing.

Beethoven’s Seventh >> 

Die Stille Nacht >> 

Photo credit – Oliver Miller

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