Like buildings of the Baroque period in Italy that symbolized prosperity and confidence in the future, the South Melbourne Town Hall now the home to Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), contributes to the well being of its talented post graduate musical students who come from all over the country to refine their practices before setting out to enjoy a career in the world of music.
We make history by reinventing everything eternal in our past and composer Luigi Boccherini’s superb String Quintet in C Major op 30 no 6; Night Music from the Streets of Madrid, today still proves the case for beauty in action in the name of the Baroque.
Love, loyalty, tragedy, sadness, happiness, intrigue, joy and passion are all present in a wondrous work composed around 1780, especially as played by musicians of the ANAM orchestra directed by acclaimed Australian violinist Paul Wright for the concert Sara Macliver, Paul Wright & the Italian Baroque.
Born in Lucca, Italy, and a distinguished cellist by the age of 17 as well as making his mark in composition, Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) created his own style of string quartet – two violins, viola and two cellos.
His legacy of some 500 compositions in the main display gentle warmth and superlative elegance in the French rococo style.
He moved to live and work in Madrid in 1768 becoming music teacher to Infante Luis Antonio, younger brother of King Charles III and remained for the rest of his life.
His Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid, includes the memorable fifth movement Passacalle, for Cello and Violin, which is all delight.
Italian composer Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678-1741) demanded a great deal from both his singers and players and director Paul Wright a leading exponent of period violin, certainly inspired his youthful colleagues of the ANAM orchestra to raise the bar of excellence by example.
Renowned Melbourne musician Joe Chindamo superbly re-imagined two compositions by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), a harpsichord virtuoso, which resonated well in its grand manner spaces.
Scarlatti’s father was an opera composer and the son was brought up in a joyful atmosphere, which influenced the development of his style one that offered piquant melodies of exuberant vivacity.
The audience really responded to both, but most especially the Sonata in E major K380 composed first around 1740, which could be likened to a passionate fresco of dramatic contrasts.
The Concerto Grosso in C Major op. 2 no 1 composed in 1698 by Giovanni Lorenzo Gregori (1663-1745) was my favourite ‘tour de force’ instrumental piece of the evening.
Gregori first used the ‘concerto grosso’ term to describe one of the most fascinating inventions of the Baroque period, the ‘applied echo principle’,
This is where the smaller strong instruments opposed the larger ones when playing the melody and where the bass added a richness of sonority. All the instrumentalists provided a great variety of form and expression, one that was both rich and eloquent.
For me the clarity and purity of tone as an important aspect of the Baroque and its overriding interest in the potential of the melodic line to inspire the listener, was first and foremost.
The work allowed Wright and all the players to shine, including the lovely Queensland violin player Zoe Freisberg and from NZ Alexander Arai-Swale on his unique five string bass instrument.
Sydney based award winning heavenly voiced soprano Sara MacLiver on the first half of the program performed a dramatically intense aria from Antonia Caldara’s oratorio composed circa 1700 about a battle between good and evil between Celestial and Earthly Love Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo (1695) and her In lagrime stemprato was both imaginative and expressive.
However when music of the Baroque style is delivered by a virtuosic vocalist one whose expressive skills represents the varying emotions and dramatic situations of the age within their music, then you are bordering on the sublime.
Sara brilliantly took us there during the second half of the concert when she reached the highest notes of her range, exhibiting great warmth, natural energy, vivid colour and memorable expressiveness.
She sang the glorious aria Sovente il sole from Andromeda liberata (c1725) and this wondrous highlight of the night was followed the uplifting Crudel tiranno Amor, yet another glorious cantata by George Frideric Handel (1721) plus an encore.
Brava, this was a wonderfully conceived and presented concert, which the packed audience responded too enthusiastically.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016