MSO Chamber Players
For the opening concert of their 2014 chamber music series Melbourne Symphony members Sarah Beggs (flute), Michael Pisani (oboe), Phillip Arkinstall (clarinet), Brock Imison (bassoon), Saul Lewis (horn) and Matthew Tomkins (violin) were joined by pianist Kristian Chong.
Beginning with an arrangement for wind quartet of some waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, they did their best to emulate Strauss' superb, lush full orchestrations with Imison's jocular bassoon contributing to the Viennese atmosphere.
Composer Peter Sculthorpe has continuously returned to the indigenous music of northern Australia as an inspiration. His Dream Tracks for clarinet, violin and piano is a luminous exploration of the ''songlines'' or dreaming tracks that are intertwined in the connection of Aboriginal people to their land. Trading evocative melody and countermelody the group moved together in complete synchronicity.
Commissioned by American jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman, Bartok's Contrasts for clarinet trio mixes jazz with traditional Hungarian folk influences. Individually they conquered its extraordinary technical writing and collectively delivered with precise wire-taut ensemble. With Choong in constant rhythmic support, Tomkins' outer movement cadenza was well matched by Arkinstall.
Despite a few early glitches, Nielsen's cheerful Wind Quintet settled well with its final theme and variations, allowing pleasing individual solo opportunities.