In April, Sergio Mendes toured Australia, bringing his distinctive, infinitely cool sound of the sixties: the joyous celebration of life, love and Latin rhythms that audiences savor as the epitome of that swinging era.
Mendes emanates authority– an immaculate presence in blue fitted jacket and fedora.
He remains powerfully himself, but he has moved forward with the times to embrace new styles and to collaborate with a wide variety of musicians, including The Black-Eyed Peas in 2009.
He has kept the classic lineup of his early career with himself centre-stage on keyboard, with Gracinha Leporace, his wife of 40 years and LA-based singer Katie Hampton providing the signature female vocals and harmonies.
No one could describe the atmosphere in the concert better than Mendes when he said, "It’s a party!".
Canberra International Music Festival Concert 4: Four Seasons, Fitters' Workshop, Saturday April 28.
This concert, with solo violinist Tim Fain, was an intensified view of the universal seasonal landscape, in which nature and human emotion are powerfully enmeshed.
The opening Spring movement was a joyous cacophony of birdsong, growing in complexity till it filled the ears and imagination. By stripping back Vivaldi’s original score and distilling the absolute musical essence into looped thematic motifs, Max Richter follows in Vivaldi’s footsteps, but he records his observations in a way that shakes the listener out of complacency with new music that moves us deeply.
No-one left the Fitters' Workshop that Saturday night unmoved after the performance.
The second of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra 2018 series was a mighty concert displaying the flexibility of the orchestra in its ability to interpret the technical and emotional demands of repertoire spanning three centuries.
Conductor Johannes Fritzsch was economical in style and yet succeeded in drawing a decidedly energetic performance of Beethoven’s Second Symphony from the musicians. Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis is a timeless work building on the spiritual inflections of the original setting for Psalm 2 to create a broad, embracing orchestral work in Vaughan Williams’s twentieth century version.
And what an exceptional performance Phoebe Russell gave in her rendition of the Concerto for Double Bass by Johann Baptist Vanhal!
The Australian String Quartet’s recital Close Quarters at the Nishi Gallery, New Acton, on Saturday October 6 was special for the renditions of the last movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No 1, which opened with a dazzling entry from Dale Barltrop to develop with rhythmic precision, sparkling passages and an altogether joyous interpretation.
We next had a glimpse of the up-coming partnership between the ASQ and Sydney Dance Company with their version of Bryce Dessner’s composition that will accompany choreography for Rafael Bonachela’s Frame of Mind later this month.
Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet; Musica Viva, Llewellyn Hall, Thursday April 19, was a concert of richly varied textures – a refresher for ears accustomed to the traditional classical nuances of the chamber music sound. For me the highlight of the evening was David Bruce’s Cymbeline for mandolin and string quartet, composed in 2013. His cleverly constructed first movement, Sunrise, established the separation of instrument registers and created spacious sonorities.
Bruce’s music tells us immediately that he understands the value of every instrumental voice for whom he is writing. He is a master of rhythmic patterning and builds dramatic tension by throwing rhythmic hooks to catch our imagination and snare our expectations.