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Mornington Peninsula potpourri celebrates sixth year with Bach with bite

Peninsula Summer Music Festival
St James the Less, Mount Eliza
December 29

Cantering comfortably into its sixth year of operations, this amiable small festival on the Mornington Peninsula caters to a wide range of audience tastes in venues from Mount Eliza to Rosebud via Fingal. Along with an initial gambit of three Bach cantatas, the organisers are presenting ABC announcer Christopher Lawrence as narrator for Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, a dash of klezmer, tenor and lute performing Dowland, the elegant Tim Stevens Trio, Monteverdi's Combattimento, and lots of Piazzolla from Andrea Katz and her Songmakers Australia group.

Concurrently, the Anglican Church in Flinders is hosting six recitals, mostly featuring Baroque repertoire including all of Telemann's Paris Quartets but bracketed by Elena Kats-Chernin compositions interpreted by the Acacia Quartet, and the estimable classical-jazz fusion of Joe Chindamo and Zoe Black.

At Saturday's opening, tenor Paul Bentley and bass Nicholas Dinopoulos sang a cantata each before combing for a hefty performance of Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV 157, distinguished by the singers' intensity, Bentley's easy negotiation of each top B in the operatic Ich halte solo, and the mellow pleasure of the bass' lowest register.

The festival ensemble produced generally lucid and flexible linear constructs but the most arresting feature of this contributory layer was the vital buzzing texture of Laura Vaughan's violone, Howard Penny on cello, and the dangerously clear-speaking organ of Donald Nicholson.