A Little Lunch Music with Edwards and Schaupp at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place in Sydney was a sublime concert to complete a special year of music for me. Thanks to Artistic director Kathryn Selby for orchestrating such a special finale to a year of splendid concerts.
Widely hailed Australian chamber musicians Claire Edwardes (marimba-vibraphone) and Karin Schaupp (guitar) teamed up for the first time in 2015 in an all Australian program featuring brand new works written especially for the pair.
They celebrated contemporary Australian composers with an intimate concert through the mellow and sensual sounds of the marimba and guitar. The quality of sounds from these instruments was enhanced by the specially designed acoustics of the City Recital Hall at Angel Place in the heart of the city of Sydney.
This animated performance took the audience on a rousing musical journey through the contrasting Australian landscape. The colours, textures, shapes and patterns of our diverse landscape were richly and evocatively captured in the music.
In Di Primavera by the Australian composer Maria Grenfell, the warm breezes of the late afternoon were expressed in the frolicking notes of the marimba and the lyrical qualities of the guitar. The rippling sounds of water dripping in soft and gentles cascades tumbled from the marimba as Claire Edwardes elegantly danced around her beloved instrument.
Beautifully sustained notes from both instruments were heard as the surge and thrust of water was struck on the marimba and balanced by the gentler sounds of the guitar.
She introduced the piece by describing the composer’s recollections of the fauna and the magnificent Mt Warning located in the picturesque Tweed Valley.
The first movement was infused with the call of the Kingfisher. In this solo by Karen Schaupp she sympathetically fingered the images of birds soaring, darting, playing and cavorting joyous in their gentle flight, taking the audience into the sky.
The timbres of misty mornings on the mountain were hauntingly scenic. The light of the day began to grasp the dew and scatter the shadows.
The plucking and strumming of the guitar heralded the day and resonated with the mist.
Karin Schaupp played the humorous third movement suggesting all the frolicking and croaking of frogs. The repeated motif was very amusing as frogs clumsily hopped restless and hungry.
The birds returned in the fourth movement gently gliding, hovering and dipping.
Karen acknowledged Richard Charlton’s presence in the audience. This was a special moment when composer and musician applauded one another.
Later in the program another of Richard Charlton’s compositions Distant Shores from ‘Carpentaria’ was performed.
Distant Shores was inspired by the composer’s aerial views of the top end of Australia.
“I was struck by the unusual colours of the country, particularly when seen from the air. The earth really is very ‘red,’ the colour of the sea of the Gulf is a wonderful deep turquoise and there are miles and miles of deserted coastline! When composing thus suite I tried to imbue the music with this sense of colour and distance.”
The vibraphone and guitar sensitively communicated the melancholic, wistful and poetic character of the composition that was emotively clouded in cherished memories. Distance echoed in the sustained notes and a mysterious stillness was threaded in the exquisite guitar playing and the dark mellow sounds of the vibraphone.
The composition was passionately expressive intrinsically beautiful and the musicians playing perceptively and methodically embraced its distinctively Australian characteristics.
The highly virtuosic Marimba Dancers composed by the renowned Ross Edwards consists of “two radiant dances framing an introspective, recitative interlude.” In the first movement the sounds roll and swallow dancing with a graceful fluidity and the notes pirouette with movement rolling and curling. The tone is celebratory, optimistic, joyous and a touch quirky.
The second movement is more serious in intention, reflective, intense and challenging. The strong bursts of staccato are followed with sombre tones gurgling and ominous. In the third movement the mood is lighter, buoyant moving back to rhythm and ambiance of the dance.
Claire and Karen combined to connect the landscape of diverse patterns and assorted colours in the music to the audience. In the second Ross Edwards composition Djanaba an Eora word (from the people who originally inhabited the Sydney Basin). The meaning of Djanaba is laughter and this was certainly reflected in the music.
The ripple of water, the fall of a leaf, the form of a sand dune, the rustle of a bird, the scratch of a lizard were all eloquently shaped in the rich sonorous tones of the marimba and the uplifting muted tones of the guitar.
Gerald Brophy a Brisbane based composer deviated from the Australian theme of the music but with the noblest of intentions.
He was honouring and respecting the passing of the African percussion maestro Doudou Ndiaye Rose.
This composition surged with the rhythmic energy that pulsated through both the vibraphone and guitar.
Nigel Westlake the composer of Songs from the Forest was also present at the concert. He originally wrote the composition for two guitars, however here he re worked it for guitar and percussion.
The opening notes took the audience immediately into the sounds, smells and sights of the forest.
The freshness and lushness of clean green where hidden surprises awaited was enchanting.
The layers of grow the echoed in the changing instruments, the canopy, twisted vines, ground covers.
Edwardes played with an agility that was mesmerising and the depth of the forest succinctly radiated from the suggestions of Karin Schaupp’s guitar recital.
Clipped notes, building to a crescendo and then trailing off were the essence of the sounds of the forest. Light and shade filtered and touched with the unexpected just like a forest.
Claire Edwardes attacked her instrument with zest and polish and drove the notes to convey vivid pictures from the music.
Karen Schaupp was equally effective in her fine precise astute plucking of her strings.
This was a very intoxicating professional performance from them both.
Rose Niland, Special Features Editor NSW, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015