Virtuosic dazzle – Musica Viva’s Among the Birds and the Trees

by | May 6, 2023 | Ambassador thoughts, Flute, harp, Trios, Viola

Musica Viva | Among the Birds and Trees

May 3, 2023, Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane

Musica Viva’s Among the Birds and Trees concert on Wednesday night was the perfect escape from the bustle of life, a moment to enjoy chamber music in the middle of the week. I popped down to Southbank after work, met my friend for a quick dinner, and then we found our way to the Queensland Conservatorium Theatre. 

Featuring London Symphony Orchestra flautist Adam Walker, Vienna Philharmonic harpist Anneleen Lenaerts, and BBC New Generation Artist, Timothy Ridout on viola, this concert was held as part of a national tour.  

Hearing a trio of harp, flute and viola was unusual but I loved it! These instruments aren’t featured that often in chamber music, so it made for a unique and thoroughly enjoyable evening. 

birds and trees 1 credit naomi jellicoe

The concert began with each of the artists having a solo spotlight moment. First, Adam performed George Benjamin’s Flight on flute, evoking birds soaring and dipping over mountain peaks. Anneleen then performed Debussy’s Gardens in the Rain, her harp rippling like rain gently falling. Timothy performed Telemann’s Fantasia No. 7 in E-flat major, evoking changing colours of a landscape at dusk through the three contrasting movements. 

The trio then came together to perform Sofia Gubaidulina’s The Garden of Joy and Sorrow. Sofia was a Russian composer during the Soviet era, and her music creates a rich sound-world that blends Eastern and Western musical ideas. This piece was inspired by Russian poetry about an exotic garden. 

After a brief interval, we heard Adam perform Olivier Messiaen’s The Blackbird. This piece mimics birdsong, from warbling cadenzas to flowing melodic passages, before ending with a virtuosic dazzle. 

birds and trees 4 credit naomi jellicoeWe then had a shift to Japanese music, with a piece by Tōru Takemitsu, And then I knew ‘twas Wind. The work takes its title from an Emily Dickinson poem, referencing breath, wind, and spirit. Adam, Timothy and Anneleen performed this piece together, evoking images of the wind rustling through a garden. 

The concert concluded with two works by Debussy, his Clair de lune (Light of the Moon) and his Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp. Anneleen performed Clair de Lune as a solo, her harp evoking a calm, moonlit night. The trio then performed the sonata. It had a melancholic feel, written during the war and when Debussy was suffering from cancer. This was a meditative and peaceful way to end the concert. 

We walked out into the cool Brisbane evening, and through the Southbank parklands under the light of the full moon.

Catch this concert in other cities until May 14 – Details here >>

 

Photo credit – Naomi Jellicoe

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