ACO Season 2016 – Beethoven: Mighty Pillar for 21st Century

ACO Season 2016 – Beethoven: Mighty Pillar for 21st Century
Tognetti ACO 2015

Richard Tognetti photo Mick Bruzzese, courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) have found over the years every time they interpret the sublimely explored rhythms, forms and textures of German born composer Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) they have received countless accolades.

At the height of his creative powers Beethoven is the man of his day sanctioned by experience, as being at the essence of classical form and style for all other composers to build upon.

Award winning, violinist, conductor, composer and director Richard Tognetti AO has innovated the ACO‘s 2016 National Concert Season highlighting Beethoven’s late string quartets and showcasing his ongoing influence on the evolution of music from his time to ours.

Beethoven was convinced all men could become brothers in joy through music and he reached a pinnacle of achievement in superlative music making during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

His masterful compositions discerned the patterns that reflected the continuity of artistic growth; a synthesis of tradition and life. He eloquently used the power of the rich imagery he created, and today the main impression his works make is quite simply greatness.

Respecting and building on tradition, ACO musicians will embrace sublime music making ‘bristling with invention and energy’ as a collective voice.


Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, Artistic Director of ACO Collective, photo Kaapo Kamu, courtesy Artist and Australian Chamber Orchestra

Their stellar line of guest directors, guest leaders, composers and artists will ensure they provide a wondrous experience for all, whether seasoned subscribers or those coming new to the ACO experience.

Those listening will be sure to believe they are hearing each piece played as it if was for the very first time.

Talented Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto has a brand new role as Artistic Director of the ACO Collective (formerly ACO2). His appointment is important not only for the ACO, but also for the future of music in Australia.

Kuusisto is a young man known to exceed all boundaries in his quest to ‘evolve new forms from ancient traditions’.

We confidently entrust Pekka with these responsibilities.” said Tognetti, who over the course of his career has gained respect for his ability to build and retain high standards of excellence.

The ACO Collective will be presenting the first concert of the year in February ‘Beethoven and the 21st Century’ and after much discussion, his “Opus. 95 “Serioso will be the closing work…” Kuusisto said, noting that Beethoven himself wrote ‘… the work should not be performed to the general public, but only for a small circle of connoisseurs’.

Remaining confident he also observed that Beethoven would have likely changed his mind upon hearing the ACO Collective.

Tognetti with ACO Playing

Director Richard Tognetti and ACO musicians, photo Simon Van Boxtel courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

While Pekka and the ACO Collective players are on stage Richard Tognetti will be touring the ACO in the USA, performing on stage at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, 92nd Street Y in New York City and the Camp Concert Hall, University of Virginia in Richmond.

They are sharing their critically acclaimed experience of The Reef, a work that emerged in May 2012, when Richard Tognetti took a crew of surfers, musicians and film makers to Ningaloo Reef, where the desert meets the sea, spending two unforgettable weeks surfing, making music and filming.

ACO 11

Timothy Constable, courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

No true musical artist can deny his times, culture and environment, irrevocably they help to shape the atmosphere over which they must triumph. Richard Tognetti having given 25 years of total service, is also passing his baton to others to direct during the course of the program.

In April Timothy Constable guest Australian composer and Artistic Director of Synergy Percussion Australia’s oldest and foremost contemporary music ensemble, will provide a world premier of a new work for strings and percussion, highlighting their virtuosic ongoing collaboration with the ACO.

“I am really looking forward to this project”, says Constable. “It’s an absolute kaleidoscope of wonderful sounds. Once Richard Tognetti and I tabled some of our mutual favourite composers this beautiful filmic musical journey started to coalesce”.

Selections from film score composer Thomas Newman’s American Beauty, a satire on notions of beauty will be a highlight, including musical observances about romantic and paternal love, self liberation and redemption.

Tognetti ACO 2015 2

Richard Tognetti photo Mick Bruzzese, courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

During May Richard Tognetti will present a program featuring works by one of the greatest trio’s of composer’s Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, between whom were woven the threads of musical destiny.

He concedes this will be perhaps his most ambitious undertaking to date, as he transcends more than mere theory to achieve rapturous heights in the playing of music.

He will explore both Bach and Beethoven’s evocation of the ‘art of fuge’, a composition based upon one, two, or more themes enunciated by several voices or parts in turn.

It gradually builds into a complex form with its distinct divisions and marked climax at the end; Bach’s Grosse Fuge has been called by The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross “the most radical work by the most formidable composer in history”.

Beethoven was deeply influenced by Bach admiring his sublime ‘intensity of purpose’ and was driven to explore the fugal form as Bach had done in his latter years,

Richard Tognetti will also play Mozart’s last and perhaps most dramatic crown jewel, the Violin Concerto, No.5 in A Major known as the ‘Turkish’, for the exotic elements of its finale.

This wonderful work has a six-measure Adagio interlude, considered one of the most moving passages ever composed.

Its degree of technical demands requires that the violin soloist fly high, sublimely going where no violinist has gone before.

It is both electrifying and formidable and the concert promises to be a ‘tour de force’.

ACO Tognetti

Tognetti with ACO Playing Director, violin Richard Tognetti and ACO musicians, photo Simon Van Boxtel courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

In June Theft will be presented as part of the 2016 Vivid Sydney Festival of Light, Music & Ideas, with events director Ignatius Jones and DJ Kim Moyes. This extraordinary collaboration with musicians, lawyers, experts and thieves traces the history of appropriation through the centuries: Beethoven lifting from Mozart and being borrowed by Strauss; Bach taking from Vivaldi, in turn taken by Berg; and 21st-century ‘sampling’ technologies enabling direct quotes from every recording ever made.


Giovanni Sillima, photo by Gian Maria Musarra, courtesy artist and Australian Chamber Orchestra

Italian ‘post minimalist’ composer and cellist Giovanni Sollima, whose flair for showmanship endears him to many, will be sure to captivate when performing Neapolitan Baroque composer Leonardo Leo’s Cello Concerto No 3 in D minor as well as his own work Fecit Neap 17… for Cello, Strings and Continuo during June and July.


Lorenza Borrani, photo by Werner Kmetisch, courtesy Artist and Australian Chamber Orchestra

Violinist Lorenza Borrani, Concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, whose players originally graduated from the European Union Youth Orchestra, will be a special guest director for the Beethoven Quartet’s Season Finale.

Borrani comes from Tuscany, where the air and light is beautiful and where her cultural background contributes to the melding of a group that for whom music making remains at the heart of ‘inspired performances’

In August Richard Tognetti and the ACO will spend three weeks during the Northern Hemisphere summer, with concerts planned in the UK, Switzerland and other European destinations, the dates announced in March 2016.

Leonskaja BEST

Elisabeth Leonskaja © Julia Wesely, courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

Late in August Guest leader Romanic Simovic will work with acclaimed Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja renowned for embracing ‘visionary gleams’ and searching constantly for new horizons.

This should suit her playing of chamber music genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 9 in E-flat major “Jeunehomme’ written in Salzburg in 177 when the musical genius was 21.

Julia Lezhneva 2015

Julia Lezhneva, photo by Simon Fowler, courtesy artist and Australian Chamber Orchestra

Also on this program Beethoven’s String Quartet in E-flat major, Op.127

When looking back Beethoven expressed the ‘ultimate apotheosis of classicism‘ and when looking forward became the fountainhead for the Romantics who followed.

His illustrative music expresses more emotion than a painting.

Adding her rich resonating glorious voice to proceedings in a program that doesn’t really need much text, the stunning Russian born soprano Julia Lezhneva will provide an evening of true ‘Baroque brilliance in October.

She has a voice of one of the brightest of all stars in the global firmament, one surely born in heaven.

With a sensitive and quite beautiful restraint, Lezhneva combines vocal splendour with an innate and finely drawn sense of taste and style.

Last time I was privileged to hear her sing she took the audience soaring along with her into a whole new world, one where all the stars aligned with the heroes and the angels of heaven and history.

With the ACO, she will sing a sacred, forgotten gem from Porpora, and an antiphon from Handel. From Vivaldi’s first opera, Ottone in Villa, she will sing an aria displaying the genius of his melodic gift. Handel’s Alessandro is “all lightness and charm, yet holds rich potential for vocal fireworks for a singer of Lezhneva’s abilities.”

Beethoven widened the worlds of vocal and instrumental music, embracing the idea of an active creative process, one that required him to triumph over form while respecting some of the limitations of his craft.

He expanded on old ideas as he matured, moving onto previously unexplored planes in his sonata forms offering boldness, great breadth of execution. When combined with a fiery imagination this ensured his content was and remained wholly original, articulating what he wanted to say sublimely.

Beethoven did not achieve such a mighty position on his own. He built his own career, works and reputation on the foundation of works by composers he admired such as Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1742) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with whom he wanted to study as a young man, only to mourn his early death along with his contemporaries.

Slava Grigoryan BEST

Classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan photo by Simon Shiff, courtesy artist and Australian Chamber Orchestra

In November towards the end of the year Slava Grigoryan, Australia’s leading classical guitarist will dazzle playing the Concierto de Aranjuez.

Composed in 1939 in Paris by Spanish composer and virtuoso pianist vision impaired Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez it is considered at the pinnacle of Spanish music and the repertoire for guitar and orchestra.

Grigoryan has collaborated with the ACO since he first burst onto the Australian scene as a young man, quite dazzling the crowd who gathered at an ACO guided festival of music held in a Mudgee winery. I was there.

His virtuosity and the vivacity and freshness of his playing I remember well, because I am a great lover of classical guitar and indeed all the music of Spain, which is part of my own cultural heritage.

Aria award winning Slava Grigoryan considers this work “… an exceptionally important piece for all guitarists, without doubt the most popular work for guitar and orchestra. It is almost twenty years since my last performance of this with the ACO” he noted “… I can’t wait to explore it with them again


Australian Chamber Orchestra on stage…

Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 is on this program too, the work the composer called “one of the happiest products of my poor talents,”.

He composed it to benefit soldiers wounded during the battle of Hanau fought by the Austro-Bavarian corps and Napoleon’s retreating French army during the War of the Sixth Coalition on October 30-31, 1813.


Joseph Carl Stieler, 1819-20, Portrait of Beethoven painted from life. courtesy Beethoven House, Bonn

Today Beethoven and his extraordinary canon of works stand at the centre of the principles, or standards accepted as universally binding in his field of performance art. His passionate concern for freedom and dignity shaped his intellectual and philosophical pursuits.

His deportment, demeanour and attitude ensured that liberty of sound and style was always foremost and although as a young man he loved humanity, by the end of his life he did not want to communicate with humans except through his music.

His legacy of well-tempered works and styles are today revered for their dynamic heroism, technical achievement, artistic beauty and great intellectual depth.

Sadly by the end of his life they were unable to give him as much as he could offer them, especially once his affliction descended upon him like a dark cloud. As his fame grew, Beethoven withdrew more and more.

Generous to all, he embraced the idea of his music appealing to the world at large and his standards of sheer excellence remained the same whether he was producing music for masses of people or select members of the nobility in a salon. His portrait by Joseph Carl Stieler, painted from life reveals his strength of purpose; a man of courage.

ACO leader Richard Tognetti

ACO Director Richard Tognetti conducting ACO musicians, photo Simon Van Boxtel courtesy Australian Chamber Orchestra

ACO musicians and their guests all have very particular talents for music making sublime and their 2016 National Concert Season exploring the ‘entire canon of classical music with Beethoven as the centrepiece’, will be superlative.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015

Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO)
2016 National Concert Season

Richard Tognetti: 2016 Season Introduction


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  • Eileen Lavis; says:

    I should like to receive a copy of the ACO program for 2016 when it becomes available…

  • Hello Eileen… we have referred your enquiry to the ACO and I am sure you will receive a brochure in the mail soon… looks like an exciting season. Carolyn McDowall,

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