Brandenburg Quartet: Period Instrument Quartet Ensemble Tour

Brandenburg Quartet
Brandenburg Quartet

L-R, Shaun Lee-Chen, Ben Dollman, Monique O’Dea, Jamie Hey, Brandenburg Quartet, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Performing exclusively on gut string instruments, the Brandenburg Quartet, will offer a very special concert in Sydney, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia this April, 2018.

Australia’s newest period instrument ensemble has been formed to provide a very special conversation to take place between its four string players; acclaimed cellist Jamie Hey with the rare trio of violinists, Monique O’Dea, Shaun Lee-Chen and Ben Dollman.

All regular performers with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra under the leadership of artistic director Paul Dyer AO, they are each exceptional solo players.

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Ben Dollman on Violin, Paul Dyer on Harpsichord, photo Steven Godbee courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

The aim of founding this virtuoso quartet is to intimately engage the audience with the glories of early and classical music, so they have an opportunity to expand their understanding of the development of western music as a whole.

“The experience of being part of this wonderful quartet has been a journey of discovery from day one says Ben Dollman. “Already we’ve had the pleasure of performing both around Australia and in Japan; developing a greater rapport and understanding of each other as musical colleagues” Dollman said.

Baroque MusiciansRichly resonating, the notes they play echo the composer’s intentions at a time in Europe when musicians were playing in superb salons, whose architecture adhered to classical mathematic principles, designed since ancient times to enhance acoustic sensibility.

Baroque Cellist Jamie Hey, photo courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Baroque Cellist Jamie Hey, photo courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Acclaimed cellist Jamie Hey comments… “Like all good music it takes both performers and audience on a journey to places outside of our normal world, and expands us in ways we might not otherwise imagine.

This period of music especially was one that saw some of the greatest musical minds come together in a relatively short timeframe, sparking a rush of creative endeavour.”

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Violin, Monique O’Dea, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Monique O’Dea, who will perform on the violin says, “Our upcoming tour program begins in the passionate Kingdom of Naples, where some of the most adventurous music was composed through the 18th century”.

This new initiative is going forward because of the success of their first-ever Australian performance at Ukaria Cultural Centre in Adelaide last year. They will perform in various venues; April 14 in Sydney, April 15 in Melbourne, April 18 in Perth and April 22 in Adelaide.

Violin, Shaun Lee-Chen, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Violin, Shaun Lee-Chen, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Shaun Lee-Chen said “The sound of a string quartet on period instruments is also something rich and very special, and rarely heard in Australia. What we can make of this on our instruments is one of the joys of this exploration.”

The music they are playing on gut strings will be sure to intrigue; DURANTE Concerto for Strings in G Minor, ROMBERG String Quartet in F Major, HAYDN; String Quartet in D Minor, Op.76/2

Attributed to Maker Ralph Agutter 1685 this beautiful violin is carved, sawn and planed sycamore and pine. Made for the Royal Household it includes the Royal Stuart coat of arms before they were modified at the time of the accession of William III and Queen Mary in 1688

Attributed to Maker Ralph Agutter 1685 this beautiful violin is carved, sawn and planed sycamore and pine. Made for the Royal Household it includes the Royal Stuart coat of arms before they were modified at the time of the accession of William III and Queen Mary in 1688

Gut strings are made from natural animal fibres, found in the intestine walls of sheep, goats, horses, mules and donkeys.

They were used for generations of musical instruments, offering a richer rounder more beautiful tone than that of modern synthetic strings.

The first work is by Italian composer Francesco Durante (1684 -1755), a teacher and chapel master at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo in Naples (1728–39).

His many compositions included motets, masses, oratorios, and a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as well as harpsichord pieces and music for strings.

Brandenburg Quartet, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Brandenburg Quartet, courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Durante was remembered long after he died because in 1767, the popular French political philosopher, educationist and author, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) perhaps over-exuberantly praised him as being the supreme master of harmony in Italy and the world at the time.

Bernhard Romberg was a German cellist and composer who first performed in public aged 7. He played with Ludwig van Beethoven in the court orchestra of the Prince Elector Archbishop of Cologne in Bonn and is known for his innovations in both the cello instrument’s design and performance.

Composer Luigi Boccherinie on his Cello, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

Composer Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) on his Cello, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

A biography at the time, noted … ‘he has complete power over the instrument or, rather, the instrument itself, with its force and grace, with its rare wealth of sound becomes part of the artist, and without any expense of mechanical force conveys all the soul is feeling’*

The final work is by Joseph Haydn; String Quartet in D Minor, Op.76/2. It is just one of a set of string quartets composed in 1796 when he was employed at the court of one of music’s most notable patrons in Europe, Hungarian Prince Nicolaus Esterházy II; superbly imagined, they emphasize thematic continuity as the strings pass the music from one instrument to another seamlessly.

Should be a very special experience.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept, 2018

Brandenburg Quartet

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