Monday, July 22, 2013

Barefoot Fiddler

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Australian Chamber Orchestra
Hamer Hall
July 21, 22

Rather than her customary unshod stance lowering our body temperatures in sympathy on a freezing Sunday afternoon, guest director-lead violin Patricia Kopatchinskaja took the Australian Chamber Orchestra through a series of heated encounters with Mozart's C minor Adagio and Fugue, the lesser-known D minor Violin Concerto, by Mendelssohn, and Alberto Ginastera's universally taxing Concerto for Strings.

Where the ensemble's artistic director Richard Tognetti is renowned for his brisk cobweb-clearing style, Kopatchinskaja pushed even more heavily on the ACO musicians, beginning with a crisp assault on the Mozart work, although the direct style and hefty dynamics gave it an unexpectedly passionate intensity.

In the Mendelssohn concerto, Kopatchinskaja reserved most of the fireworks for herself, expounding her line with a vehemence while the supporting strings did their best to keep up during exhilarating tempo shifts in the first movement and across the rapid-paced final Allegro, the work, punctuated by attention-grabbing cadenzas that displayed an admirable technique if a near-impatience to hurtle through.

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Even though the Ginastera concerto proved an exciting exhibition piece for the players and section principals, particularly Maxime Bibeau revelling in the rich timbres of the ACO's newly acquired Salo double-bass, the best playing of this program came in Bach's three-violin concerto. Helena Rathbone and Rebecca Chan complemented Kopatchinskaja in a character-rich interpretation that, like the rest of the program, took no prisoners but balanced a driving compulsion with fluency of output, allowing plenty of room for individuality of voice.


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