Archive for the 'Violin' Category

Bush violins

Bernard O’Reilly (1903-1975), of Green Mountains fame, writing about his bush childhood in the Kanimbla Valley, NSW:

That music! – accordians and concertinas [page break]- low brow, but who is so high brow or blasé that he doesn’t secretly enjoy such music?  But best were the violins and they were played by men to whom violin playing had come as legacies from father to son and on to grandson. Their music was a thing apart, it had the quality of antiquity which is only possible where father had taught son and no outside influence or technique had been allowed to creep in.  Thinking back now it is impossible for me to say whether or not they played well from a technical point of view – you wouldn’t even think of that whilst you listened.  The violin became a live thing in their hands; it didn’t merely express their moods and feelings, but it commanded and all who listened followed as they would the Piper of Hamelin through moods of tenderness, through sorrow and through wild joy.

Are they all gone, these men? No, there is one left. Our old neighbour, Pat Cullen, of Long Swamp, has lived beyond his four score years, but in his hands, that old brown violin can still make you dance or laugh or cry.” (pages 37-38)

 

Reference:

Bernard O’Reilly [1944]: Cullenbenbong. Brisbane: WR Smith and Paterson Pty Ltd.  My copy was purchased in 1945 by Burl Ives.




Earth moving in Folkestone

SSQ Festival 2014

Two life-changing concerts this weekend, both including Finnish violin virtuoso, Pekka Kuusisto, and both in Folkestone as part of the annual Sacconi Quartet’s Chamber Music Festival.  The first was a  concert in St. Mary and St. Eanswythe’s Church that included the Sacconi Quartet and the Chamber Orchestra of the Royal College of Music. With PK, they performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and knowing they would was the main reason for my attendance.  PK’s recording of Vivaldi is the most exciting and thrilling I know.  But this live performance was on another plane entirely.  Usually The Seasons are twee and effete and smugly complacent.  PK’s recording is not that, but rather raw and rustic.  (See my comments here.) The live performance, in contrast, was sharp and edgy, thrilling and exciting too but in a different way entirely to the recording.  If Vivaldi is usually suburban Barnet gemütlichkeit, then the recording is from the wild places of Cornwall or the Hebrides, and this performance was from the mean streets of Toxteth or Mile End.

PK’s playing as always was superb. He has an amazing ability to mimic the breathy tone of a flute, producing a sound sublime, something I have heard him do before in very different work.  Yet, at other times it was if he construed the violin as a percussion instrument, not hitting it with his hand but striking the strings in a multitude of carefully-calibrated ways with the bow.  Later, in the pub after the second concert, he agreed that this notion of the percussive violin described his intention.  Violinists often see the instrument as a sort of uncanny extension of themselves, and here was an extension that was brash, direct, and forceful – someone who is here to live out loud, in Zola’s great phrase.  How different to the twee Vivaldi of most other performances I have seen.

In addition, PK treated the work as a modern work, interpreting it afresh – moving around the stage, for example, to confront directly the other players in the various duets and rounds, having face-offs at various times, and interacting physically and with immediacy in accord with the temper of each phase of the music.  The other performers responded in kind to his enthusiasm.  The acoustics in the church were excellent, so that everything could be heard well.  This was certainly the best musical experience of my life, and I feel immensely privileged to have witnessed it.

The second concert followed straight afterwards, in the primary school across the street.  We were party to a violin and electronics meditation on Bach’s Partita in D minor, by PK and Teemu Korpipaa.  The movements of the Bach were played without modification by solo violin, and interleaved with duo improvisations on what we had just heard.  This was also sublime, and had the effect of elongating and deepening the emotions invoked by the Bach, an annotation that added to the original.  It was clear the two had worked together before, and so the annotations were profound and heartfelt.




Poem: Poem VI

A poem by Derek Jarman (1942-1994), written in 1965:

Poem VI

The days are numbered,
For us, and the old man
collecting pennies under
the bridge.
For he is in disguise
and has attended the concert –
before us,
But now he plays his
violin in a way which
demands our sympathy.

(From Sketchbooks, reprinted in The Observer Magazine, 2013-08-25, page 25).

Previous poems here.




PKOM at the Wigmore

This week, I was lucky to catch the first half of a concert by Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and pianist/composer Olli Mustonen at London’s Wigmore Hall.   I heard them play Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A (Op. 30, #1) and Mustonen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, which was a world premiere.

As always with PK, the playing was superb and full of energy.   What he lacks in physical height, he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and pizzaz.  He is an extraordinarily talented violinist, and I try not to miss opportunities to hear him play.  (I have also heard him play piano, but the part was not a testing one.)

In the main, Beethoven’s violin sonatas do not impress me – our Ludwig couldn’t play the instrument nearly as well as he could play the piano, and this shows in his writing for the respective instruments.  I view these sonatas as really being piano sonatas with violin commentaries.  And, as so often with Beethoven, the music at some point comes to a stop, or nearly so, mid-way through the develoment section, like a clock winding down, and has to be re-started again.  What underlying psychological thing is going on here, I wonder, that this happens so often in B’s music?  After a while it becomes annoying, like a friend asking you the same unpleasant question every time you meet, and you want to avoid talking with that person.

Mustonen’s Sonata was superb.  The programme notes warned us that he began as a composer of “Busonian neo-classicism”.   I thought this piece was not at all neo-classical, but also certainly not in the category of up-town modernist complexity.  The first part comprised an ever-present walking treble line of odd intervals by the violin, sequences of uneven lengths and different intervals not quite repeated exactly, with various waves of piano arising and decaying around this.   The particular odd intervals – tritones, sevenths – brought immediately to my mind some music of Australian composer Larry Sitsky, who studied with Egon Petri (1881-1962), who in turn was a student of Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924).    The emotional waves of this first part were very stark.  Would I have thought of Sibelius and the forests of the North if I had not known the composer was Finnish?  I don’t know.

The transition between the second and third parts was slow and beautiful, and very moving, and the effects PK produced were simply stunning.  At one point, low trembling notes on the G string sounded like a breathy flute being played.  And a series of repeated patterns combining trills and vibrata on different fingers of the left hand, was very impressive.  Not at all clear how these effects were produced, but the independent but co-ordinated action of the left-hand fingers would have required long practice to achieve.  Perhaps the effect was partly due to rapid changes of speed and pressure on the bow, also.

It was a privilege to be in the presence of such superb music played by these two virtuosos.

Here is another review of the same concert, by an anonymous blogger.   Following the review, the blogger cites PK’s recording of Vivalid’s Four Seasons, as “restrained”.   I wonder if he or she was actually listening!    We’ve had 60 years of elegant, effete and twee recordings of The Seasons, so we know what restrained with regard to this music means.  PK’s treatment is rustic and earthy and full-blooded, as if the entire ensemble had been taken outside and roughed-up in the mud of the farmyard, and the complete opposite of restrained!   A simply superb interpretation, original, fresh and compelling.  Your milage certainly can vary, as people say.




Musical Genealogies

Thinking recently about tradition, I compiled genealogies for the lessons I have had in composition and in violin.

In composition, I once had lessons with “Gentleman Jim” Penberthy (pictured), who in turn had had lessons from Nadia Boulanger.   Although every mid-western American city was said to have had a music teacher who’d once been a pupil of Boulanger, the same was not true of Australia. As best I can determine the genealogy is thus:

  • James Penberthy (1917-1999)
    • Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
      • Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
        • Louis Niedermeyer (1802-1861)
          • Emanual Aloys Forster (1748-1823)
            • Johann Georg Pausewang (1738-1812)
        • Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
          • Fromental Halevy (1799-1862)
            • Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

I am greatly pleased to find myself a composition student descendant of Cherubini, whose sublime string quartets influenced and were influenced by those of Mendelssohn. In violin, I once had some introductory lessons from Mr Leo Birsen, whose genealogy was:

  • Leo Birsen (1902-1992)
    • Jeno Hubay (1858-1937)
      • Joseph Joachim (1831-1907)
        • Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
          • Eduard Rietz (1802-1832)
            • Johann Friedrich Ritz (1767-1828) (ER’s father)
            • Pierre Rode (1774-1830)
              • Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755-1824)

Subsequently, I have had lessons from two fine teachers whose genealogies are as follows.  My first teacher Ms Gisela Soares was taught by:

  • Philip Heyman
  • Ryszard Woycicki
    • Stefan Kamasa (1930 – )
      • Jan Rakowski (1898-1962)
        • Karola Wierzuchowskiego
      • Tadeusz Wronski (1915-2000)
      • P. Pasquier

And my second teacher Dr Claudio Forcada was taught by:

  • Goncal Comellas
    • Joan Massia i Prats (1890-1969)
      • Alfred Marchot
        • Eugene Ysaye (1858-1931)
          • Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
          • Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)

Here, parallel indents show a student of multiple teachers.  Thus, Ysaye was taught by both Wieniawksi and Vieuxtemps.  As it happens, Wieniawksi was also a pupil of Vieuxtemps.

 




Moscow Soloists in London

This past week I attended a concert in the Cadogan Hall by the Moscow Soloists String Chamber Ensemble, led by violist Yuri Bashmet.  The concert seems to have attracted many in London’s large Russian-speaking community, and there were idling limousines outside the Hall.

Although technically the playing was very proficient, the concert and the performance left me disappointed.  First, everyone on stage was dressed entirely in black, even the soloists.   Was this a convention of undertakers, I wondered?  Second, almost nobody smiled, again not even many of the soloists.   Why so glum?  Third, a grand Steinway was used for the first concerto, and then remained stuck there on stage, like some silent, brooding animal.   All the movements of furniture between pieces was done by several of the ensemble members, rather than by the Hall staff, and it is true that the piano was moved a few inches.  But not out of the way, nor offstage.   It therefore blocked the sound (and the view) of the ensemble, and meant that the sound we in the audience heard was not projected uniformly to us.   Where I was sitting on the right-hand side of the hall I heard the two cellos and the lone double bass well, but not the violins, who were hidden by the piano.    I regard this failure to move the piano out of the way as unprofessional, although who was to blame for it is not clear.  Surely, the Hall staff should have moved it aside.

And the glumness!  The first item played was Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052) with soloist Ksenia Bashmet.  Her playing was technically excellent, although not from memory.   But the music was played with such po-faced seriousness, and without any apparent emotion.   This concerto is one of the great humorous compositions of all time, perhaps the greatest before Shostakovich’s Piano and Trumpet Concerto.  A few minutes with the score would tell you the composer was having fun as he wrote it, since it is filled with adornments and flourishes, completely unnecessary and joyful in the extreme, which feel exactly right under the fingers.   This is music written by someone who really liked playing a keyboard.   Moreover, the first movement has a rondo form, with the first theme returning and returning and returning, as if without end.   There is even a solo cadenza, which would traditionally be placed near the end of the movement, which here comes in the middle;  so even after we hear the cadenza, the movement still does not end.   This is Bach having fun.   But where was the fun or the joy from these performers?   Perhaps the fact that Ms Bashmet was not playing the music from memory meant she had had not yet internalized the score sufficiently to allow herself to have free reign with its interpretation.  This performance was not a patch on the last time I heard this concerto played – by Joanna MacGregor in Cottonopolis, a few years ago, whose physical joy at the music was evident from from the get-go.

Similarly, for Mendelssohn’s D Minor Violin Concerto, played by Alena Baeva.   Again the playing here was technically excellent, although also not from memory.   However, only in the third movement did we hear some emotion – at last, some passion and joy from the soloist in what is a very joyful movement.   The earlier movements were played, in contrast, without great passion, although very well.

The two middle soloists in the first half, Dinara Alieva (soprano) and Alexander Buzlov (cello), did smile at us after their performances, but their chosen music was less intellectually enriching.  Buzlov played a theme and variations by Rossini, something the audience seemed to like more than anything else they heard, but which I found superficial in comparison with the Bach or Mendelssohn.  I did  not stay for the second half, the concert already running too long.

Overall, I believe these performers were technically very proficient as musical performers, but not superb as communicators of musical ideas;  sadly, they did not achieve their potential on this occasion, and seemed to lack any group spark or chemistry.  Perhaps this was due to the presence of the brooding piano, obstructing complete interaction with the audience, or perhaps there were other reasons.  Oddly, the ensemble did not tune up on stage at the start of the concert:  I wonder if this explained the lack of social chemistry evident.

References:

Here is a review of the concert by Hugo Shirley of The Telegraph, who likewise noticed an absence of passion.

The photo shows the Christmas Lights in Sloane Square, near to Cadogan Hall.  Photographer:  Javier Lopez Pena (a member of the Matherati).




Concert concat

As part of the diverse mental attic that this blog is, this post simply lists live music I have heard, as best my memory serves.    In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

  • Drew Steanson, piano, Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 54 and excerpts from Schumann’s Carnaval, Opus 9, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London,  2 June 2017.  Superb performance from memory.  The acoustics worked better for a piano than I had expected.  Mr Steanson spoke before each work about the themes, which most of the  audience probably appreciated.  I would prefer just to hear the music.  And I had to struggle to forget his mention of Donald Tovey’s description of the complexity of the intricate passagework in the second movement of the Beethoven, as being “like a dog chasing its own tail.”
  • Adam Brown, solo guitar, in a program of Latin American works – Barrios, Callado, Lauro, Morel, Salgan, Villa-Lobos – in St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London,  9 May 2017.  Excellent performance of some very poignant music, heard by about 25 people.
  • St Matthew Passion, Bach, London Bach Singers and The Feinstein Ensemble, Kings Place, London, 8 April 2017. The acoustics of this room are soo good that a chorus comprising one person per line (8 singers in all) filled the hall and made it resound. Superb.
  • Candide, opera by Leonard Bernstein (1988 version), King’s College London Symphony Orchestra and King’s Opera, Chapel of King’s College London, 4 February 2017.
  • Quattro Rueda Libre, comprising Catherine Smet p & composer, Benoit Leseure v, Ignaas Vermeiren db, Pato Lorente button accordion, Sounds Jazz Club, Tulipstraat, Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium, April 2016.   Through-composed Argentinian style tangos, with even the solos written, with performances of great ability and warmth.  No good ever came from playing an accordion, however, and one small drink’s worth was enough.
  • The Necks, at the Union Chapel, Highbury, London, 12 April 2016. As usual, a superb set. Pity the warm up was some experimental organ music, lacking charm or musical form or interest. With the exception of some pieces by Philip Glass, this preface was a waste of time and of the organ.
  • Bach Collegium Japan, under Masaaki Suzuki, Concerto for Two Violins in d minor and Manificat, Barbican, London, 9 April 2016.
  • Bach Collegium a Japan, under Masaaki Suzuki, Mass in B minor, Barbican, London, 8 April 2016.
  • Catherine Manson, violin, Partita #2 in d minor, King’s Place, London, 1 April 2016.
  • Feinstein Ensemble and London Bach Singers, Brandenburg Concerto #5 and Concerto in C minor for oboe and violin BWV 1060R, and Cantatas BWV 82a & BWV 55, King’s Place, London 1 April 2016.
  • Medici Choir and Brandenburg Sinfonia, under John Baird, St Matthew Passion, St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London, 19 March 2016.
  • LSE Orchestra and Choir, under Matthew Taylor, Mozart Requiem and Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in e minor, Raphael Todes, violin, St. Clement Danes Church, Temple, London, 15 March 2016. The strings displayed some shaky intonation at the start of the Mozart, but this improved as the evening advanced.  Todes used a score for the Mendelssohn.  There were about 400 people in the audience, but this fell to about 300 once the choir was no longer needed.  Why do choristers and their friends so often show their lack of interest in orchestral music, I wonder. The acoustics were mostly okay, although the sound was quite muddy at times.
  • Gooden.Semble, under Michael Poll and Ray Chan, in a concert on Thursday 22 October 2015 in the Great Hall of Goodenough College, as part of the Bloomsbury Festival. The programme comprised David Grahame’s Embiosis, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #2 (soloist: David Malusa), and Dvorak’s Symphony #8. Energetic performances in a room with great acoustics, the orchestra filling the room superbly. Grahame’s slow, chilled-out dissonances were very relaxing to listen to. Dvorak, as always, avoided any irregular rhythms and phrase lengths, lumbering square-footedly from the opening bars to the very end. One listens in vain in Dvorak’s plainly symmetrical music for anything dappled: nothing here is counter, original, spare, strange, or fickle, freckled.
  • South Brisbane Federal Band, under Patrick Pickett, in a concert of classics, in the Old Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane, 4 July 2015. Good to hear Sousa on this day! But also Land of Hope and Glory, in a theme and variations arrangement for tenor horn solo; strange that no variation allowed the band to fully rip. Overall, very good performances to a thin audience of friends and family. The band was not as loud as I expected it would be, even in the war horses, such as the 1812 Overture. Perhaps the sound disappeared into the high ceilings.
  • King’s College London Orchestra and current and former members of the King’s College London choir, performing Haydn’s Nelson Mass, in a Memorial concert for David Trendall, Chapel of King’s College London, 17 June 2015. This was a thrilling performance with about 60 singers, ranging in age from late teens to over 70 years. This ornate room has superb acoustics, and the walls shook with the force of the sound.
  • Christian Tetzlaff, playing Bach’s violin Partita #2 in Dm BWV 1004 and Sonata #3 in C BWV 1005, at LSO St Luke’s, Old Street, 21 May 2015. Masterful and deeply moving.
  • Jayson Gillham, piano, and the Australian Piano Quartet, in a recital in the Chapel of King’s College London, as part of the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and the Arts, 30 May 2015. Gillham played the piano in the first half, competently if flamboyantly. Bach, some arranged by Percy Grainger, was followed by Grainger, Vine, and Matthew Hindson’s exhilarating AK47. The second half was a performance by the APQ of Sculthorpe’s Landscapes II, Faure’s Second Piano Quartet, and, a great find, a movement from Frederick Septimus Kelly’s String Trio in Bm, of 1911. I could hear the strong influence of Mendelssohn in this music, evidence no doubt of the training Kelly had received at the Schumann-Brahms-informed Hoch Conservatorium in Frankfurt. The audience comprised perhaps just 40 people, and included the Australian High Commissioner and family, wine glasses in hand.
  • Chilly Gonzales and the Kaiser Quarter, at Milton Hall, Barbican, London, April 2015. Is there such a genre as Light Jazz? Perhaps Kenny G would appreciate this music, although G’s music can be used to chill out, while Gonzales’ music is generally too raucous and emotionally roller-coasting for that. Almost every number had a piano ostinato, often starting quietly and then becoming loud and climactic. It was not easy to listen to this pattern repeatedly, although the witty lyrics on the rap numbers were enjoyable. The treatment of Reich’s Different Trains, by imposing a strong 4/4 beat over the top of what became yet another piano ostinato, destroyed completely any possibility of appreciating the minimalist subtleties of Reich’s original sound world. I was reminded of a 4/4 version of Desmond’s Take Five that I once heard. For shame!
  • Bach’s St Matthew Passion, performed by the Academy of Ancient Music, under Richard Egarr (director & harpsichord), at the Barbican, London, Good Friday 2015, with James Gilchrist (Evangelist), Matthew Rose (Jesus), Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Sarah Connolly (alto), Mark Le Brocq (tenor), Christopher Purves (bass) and the Choir of the AAM. This was a very good rendition on original instruments, which led (as always) to some dodgy sound moments.
  • Manhattan String Quartet, playing Haydn’s The Horseman Quartet (Op 74, No. 3), Craig Walsh’s String Quartet (2010), and Elgar’s String Quartet in E Minor (Op. 83), Westminster Cathedral Hall, London, 16 January 2015. Sadly, the acoustics were terrible. The quartet were positioned at the side of the hall, instead of on the raised stage at the front. The first violinist was sitting with his back to me, and I could hardly hear his playing at all. Prior to the second quartet, the cellist spoke about the music. Even 20 feet away, I could not make out a word he said.
  • Messiah, BBC Singers and the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, arranged by Stian Aareskjold, under David Hill (conductor), with Fflur Wyn (soprano), Robin Blaze (counter-tenor), Samuel Boden (tenor) and Mark Stone (bass), in Temple Church, Temple Winter Festival, 19 December 2014.
  • Sacconi String Quartet, Friends Christmas Concert, December 2014: Mendelssohn’s String Quintet in A, Op. 18, and Ravel’s String Quartet, with Lisa Bucknell (viola). Queen’s Gate Terrace, London.
  • Bach Magnificat, Barbican, December 2014.
  • Salon de Swing (Jan Van Dijkstra, violin, and Miranda Deutsch, guitar) with Peter Walters, bass guitar, Oz Manouche Festival of Gypsy Jazz, Brisbane Jazz Club, 27 November 2014.
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra, under Sakari Oramo, with Javier Perianes (piano), playing R. Strauss Don Juan, Grieg Piano Concerto, Sibelius En Saga, and Stravinsky Firebird Suite, in the Barbican, London, 24 October 2014.
  • Wien und Venezia, a concert comprising mostly German choral music, by the Anton Bruckner Choir, under Christopher Dawe, at St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London, 11 October 2014. Chitarrone played by Richard MacKenzie, violin Liam Shinar, viola & violin Andrew Stern, organ Paul Ayers.  The Bach and Mendelssohn stirring. (HT: WP)
  • Anthony Marwood and friends, including the Heath Quartet, at the Wigmore Hall, playing Mendelssohn’s Octet, London, 7 October 2014. A thrilling performance, certainly one of the best I have heard.  The last movement was taken faster than usual, so it much better invoked the feeling of a wild fight between Good and Evil for Faust’s soul. Good prevailed, but the speed meant that it was only by a whisker.  Those speedsters Felix Mendelssohn and Eduard Reitz would have loved this version.  The programme also included Enescu’s Octet, but I wanted to leave with the Mendelssohn in my ears, so did not stay for the Enescu.
  • St James Sinfonia and New London Singers at St James Anglican Church, Picadilly, London, under Paul Goodwin, 2 October 2014.  The programme comprised:CPE Bach – Magnificat
    JS Bach – Singet dem Herrn
    Nystedt – Immortal Bach
    Zelenka – Miserere
    Pärt – Collage sur B-A-C-HSoloists were:Grace Davidson soprano
    Martha McLorinan mezzo soprano
    Nathan Vale tenor
    Stephen Kennedy bass.The acoustics of this church suit choral and orchestral music much more than they do chamber music (see below), and this was a superb concert.  Zelenka’s Miserere is spine-chilling in its harmonies.   Nystedt’s dissonances are also tender and moving. It is a wonder that CPE Bach’s Magnificat is not performed more often, so good it is.  The suspended seconds are achingly beautiful, and the final Amen chorus has to be the greatest, most rousing chorus of the whole 18th century – better, even, than The Messiah’s Hallelujah.  With the simple scale-like melodies of the first and last movements, one can hear that the young Mendelssohn must have had this work in mind when he composed his own Magnificat. How great it would be to hear them both performed together.
  • Members of Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, at King’s Place, London, playing Brahms String Sextet #1, Shostakovich’s Two Pieces for String Octet, Op. 11, and Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat, Op. 20, 25 September 2014.  Hall 80% full.   The Brahms proved to me again how conservative and turgid this composer is, a Henry James of the acoustic, without James’ irony or sensitivity.  If I never hear another chamber work by Brahms, it will still be too soon.  The Shostakovich was exciting and thrilling, as he always is.   The Mendelssohn was marred by the American woman sat next to me, acting as if attending her first ever classical concert, who drank too much too quickly at interval, and returned to her seat with hiccups:  there were thus 9 people in this octet!  Even closing my eyes gave no relief, as her hiccups could be felt all along our row of seats.  Hard to concentrate on the playing with such rhythmic overlay.
  • Quartet Volute, at St. James Church, Picadilly, playing Hayden Opus 50 # 1, and Beethoven Opus 18 # 6, 27 August 2014.  About 150 people present.  The resonant acoustic of this Church make it most unsuitable for the delicacy of chamber music.  The playing was fine, but the sound arrived muddy and echoing. Pity.
  • Pekka Kuusisto and Teemu Korpipaa: Improvisations on Bach’s Partita in D minor, at St Eanswythe’s Primary School, Folkestone, 24 May 2014.  Review here.
  • Sacconi Quartet, RCM Chamber Orchestra under Christopher Bucknall, and Pekka Kuusisto, performing Stephen Deazley’s Folkestone Road, Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, at St Mary and St. Eanswythe’s Church, Folkestone, 24 May 2014.  A review here.
  • L’Orchestre du Monde, under Janusz Piotrowicz, and Giovanni Guzzo (violin), performing The Hebrides Overture, Violin Concerto in Em, Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Symphony No. 3, at Cadogan Hall, London, 20 May 2014.  A very fine performance, although the conductor seemed to be following rather than leading.  Or else, perhaps, I was sitting in a zone where some laws of physics were suspended, because the sound of the downbeat reached me sooner than the sight of it.
  • Sinfonia d’Amici, under David Alberman, performing Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (Konrad Elias-Trostmann), and Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, 21 April 2014.  Among the best performances of the Mendelssohn I have ever heard, Elias-Trostmann’s tone was warm and rich.  His instrument is by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.  The acoustics helped – this hall is very intimate, as befits a Hawkesmoor Church, and there is no stage. Thus, sitting in the front row is the next best thing to being an orchestral member oneself.
  • London Symphony Orchestra under John Eliot Gardiner, performing Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture, Schumann’s Violin Concerto (with Alina Ibragimova), and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, at the Barbican, London, March 2014.  What an awful piece of music is the Schumann!   Although its performance, like that of the two Mendelssohn pieces, was excellent.
  • Handel’s Semele, by King’s Opera and King’s Baroque, directed by Jordan Theis and conducted by James Way, in the Chapel of King’s College London, Wednesday 12 March 2014.  A superb production, and well worth seeing in the two remaining  performances.  What is the opposite of po-faced?  This is a witty and funny production, one which does not take itself or opera too seriously.  Clever use of ipads as (video) mirrors and for selfies, and of lights and video monitors generally.  Excellent use of the physical space, especially up and down the central aisle.  Some of the singing was simply stunning, and filled the Chapel gloriously.   The long reverb of this room, however, sometimes made it sound as if orchestra and singers were not perfectly in synch, which was perhaps an artefact of where I was sat.
  • Re-enactment of Benny Goodman’s famous 16 January 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert, by Pete Long and His Goodmen, at Cadogan Hall, London, 26 January 2014.   I grew up listening to a recording of this concert, so I greatly enjoyed the music.  The re-enactment, however, had some oddities.  Goodman was famous for playing with black musicians, but the band on stage at the Cadogan was entirely white.   Many of the musicians also appeared quite old – in their 70s and even 80s.  In this regard, they matched the audience, who were almost entirely over 50.
  • The Vienna Piano Trio (Bogdan Bozovic – v, Matthias Gredler – vc, Stefan Mendl – p) at the Wigmore Hall, London, 18 January 2014, playing: Beethoven’s Trio in D “Ghost” (Op 70, #1), Henze’s Kammersonate, and Mendelssohn’s Trio #1 in D Minor (Op. 49).   For an encore, the second movement of another Beethoven trio was played. Absolutely superb and thrilling playing, this was the performance of a lifetime. Bozovic’s tone was treacly and sublime, especially in the Mendelssohn.   Oh, to achieve such a tone!   His face was also very expressive, and he kept looking to the cellist, but received little response.  Despite this, the performance was extremely tight, and demonstrated the strength of dedicated ensembles over ad hoc collections of stars; I was reminded of the disappointing performance of the same Mendelssohn trio by Vadim Repin, Mischa Maisky, and Lang Lang at the RFH in 2011 (see below).
  • The Messiah, by Mousai Singers and Solistes de Musique Ancienne, directed by Daniel Cook, in The Chapel, King’s College London, 11 December 2013.   Another  superb  Messiah from this orchestra, albeit with a different choir.
  • Rolf Hind, at the Milton Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, 5 December 2013, playing: Liszt’s Nuages Gris, James Weeks’ Gloomy Clouds and Siciliano; Mark Simpson’s Barkham Fantasy, and John Adams’ Phrygian Gates.   As when I heard him perform the piece in Liverpool,  Hind’s performance of Phrygian Gates was sublime.
  • The Magic Flute, by the English National Opera, in a production by Simon McBurney, London, 3 December 2013.  As with all his theatrical work, this production was visually stunning.  I particularly liked the actor shoals – flocks of birds, a group of people moving around the stage, each person dressed in black, and each rustling paper.
  • Maggini Quartet at King’s Place, London, 1 December 2013, playing quartets by Mozart (Hoffmeister), Bridge (#2 in Gm), and Mendelssohn (#3 in D, Op. 44-1).   Performance spoilt by poor intonation of the first violinist, and a lack of togetherness.  The two middle movements of the Mendelssohn were so loose they sounded as if played by two ensembles with slightly different timings – one comprising the first violinist, and the other comprising the rest of the quartet.   I had not thought of these movements as difficult, until hearing them done poorly.  Perhaps more rehearsal together would have helped.
  • Matthew Jorysz, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 18 November 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor BWV537, Dieterich Buxtehude’s Canzonetta in G BuxWV 171, William Cole’s Broken Chaconne (world premiere), and Edward Elgar’s Sonata in G, Op. 28, Movement 1:  Allegro Maestoso.
  • Unfunny music:  BBC Symphony Orchestra, under Sakari Oramo, with Olli Mustonen (piano) and Sergei Nakariakov (trumpet), at the Barbican, London, 2 November 2013, playing Tristan Murali’s Reflections/Reflets and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1.
  • Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Alejo Perez, at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in a memorial concert for Christophe Bertrand, playing his Virya, Madrigal and Yet (all UK premieres).  The concert was part of a series on Music of Today, curated by Unsuk Chin, who spoke before the music.
  • Ljova and the Kontraband, at Jamboree, Cable Street, Limehouse, London, Wednesday 23 October 2013.
  • Matthew Searles, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 21 October 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B Minor BWV544, Nicolas de Grigny’s Recit de Tierce en taille, and Camille Sant-Saens’ Sept Improvisation, # vi and # vii.
  • Sacconi String Quartet, in The Temple Church, Tuesday 15 October 2013, playing Puccini’s Crisantemi, Verdi’s String Quartet in Em, Purcell’s Chaconne in Dm and Britten’s String Quartet #2 in C, Op. 36 (the last two played without pause).
  • Alex Goodwin, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 7 October 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude in B Minor BWV544 and Ebarm’ Dich Mien, O Herre Gott BWV 721, Louis Vierne’s Berceuse, #19 from 24 Pieces en style libre Op. 31, William Walton’s Three Pieces from Richard III (arr. Robert Gower), Frank Bridge’s Adagio in E Minor and Kenneth Leighton’s Paean.
  • Christopher Woodward, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 30 September 2013, playing Simon Preston’s Alleluyas, Bach’s Passacaglia in Cm (BWV 582), Finzi’s Forlana (from Five Bagatelles for Clarinet and Piano, arr. Robert Gower), and Louis Vierne’s Symphony #1, op. 14, movements iv and vi.
  • quartet-lab at London’s Wigmore Hall, 15 September 2013, playing Mozart’s Divertimento in D K136, Bartok’s Duos for 2 Violins, William Byrd’s Sanctus, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”.  The quartet comprises Pekka Kuusisto, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Lilli Maijala and Pieter Wispelwey.  With the exception of cellist Wispelwey, the quartet stood, with Kopatchinskaja playing in barefeet.  Byrd’s Sanctus was played as a short prelude, without pause, to the Beethoven.  The Grauniad review is here, the Independent here.
  • Pekka Kuusisto (violin) and Olli Mustonen (piano), at London’s Wigmore Hall, 11 April 2013, playing Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A (Op. 30, #1) and Mustonen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (world premiere).
  • The Choir of King’s College London and Baroque Ensemble under David Trendell, in Bach’s St. John Passion, with Rupert Charlesworth as the Evangelist, Chapel of King’s College London, March 2013.  The bright and resonant acoustics of this chapel were filled perfectly by this warm interpretation.  In the German Lutheran tradition, the Rev. Richard Burridge gave a short sermon before the interval, on Bach’s imperfect use of John’s gospel text.
  • Chilingirian Quartet and Bulgarian Friends, at King’s Place London, as part of the Second London Festival of Bulgarian Culture, November 2012, playing Moreni (Dobrinka Tabakova, composed 2007), Piano Quartet in Eb (Schumann), and the Octet (Mendelssohn).   The additional performers  in the Octet were Ivo Stankov and Yana Burova (violins), Dimitar Burov (va), and Tim Wells (cello).  As an encore, the performers replayed the Scherzo of the Octet.
  • Solistes de Musique Ancienne, in St James Church, Picadilly, directed by Joel Newsome, playing Leclair (Recreation Deuxieme de Musique), Corelli (Christmas Concerto, Op. 6, No. 8) and Bach (Cantata BWV 132), October 2012.  The second half  (which I missed) included Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus and Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus RV807.   Another fine performance from this great ensemble.   Of the music, the Leclair was justly forgotten, the Corelli very well known but not profound, and only the Bach worth the effort of braving the heavy rain to hear.  The acoustics of the church, with its barrel roof and its wide balcony on 3 sides, supported by 5 stone columns down each side, had a strong reverberation.   The sound was thus strong and clear, although the bass soloist in the Cantata did not project his voice well:  that he was looking down at, instead of out at, his score, meant his voice hit the floor instead of the audience.  Why do singers in churches so often not project their voices, I wonder?  Does singing in a church make them timid?   The soprano at this concert was an exception, superbly filling the length of the church to the top of its high ceiling with her voice.  (The program notes do not, sadly, name the soloists.)
  • Brass in Tyalgum:  Queensland Conservatorium Brass Band at the 21st Annual Tyalgum Classical Music Festival, Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, Tyalgum, NSW, September 2012.
  • 68th Annual Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center Concert in Jewett Arts Centre, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA USA, August 2012, including performances of:  Concertino by Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), Year without Summer by  Jacob Gotlib, Excerpts from 44 Duos for Two Violins by Bela Bartok (1881 – 1954), fluttuazione/attimo by John Arrigo-Nelson, Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), Reves Transcendants by Hendel Almetus, and the Horn Trio in Eb Major by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).   I last heard Brahms’ horn trio 37 years ago (in Murwillimbah, with the piano part played by David Urquhart-Jones) and even after all these years I think this combination of instruments perverse and unpleasant;  those aspects of the horn timbre that combine well with the piano sound clash with the aspects which combine well with the violin sound, and likewise for the other two pairings.  What a shame nobody listens to this piece:  If they did, no one would play it.
  • Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire playing Mozart (Piano Concerto #20 in D minor) and Villa Lobos’ Momoprecoce, Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, and Mussorsky/Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Boston Symphony Orchestra under Marcelo Lehninger at Tanglewood, July 2012.   There is a review here.
  • Mendelssohn in Mansion House:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under Edward Gardner, with Alina Ibragimova, in the Egyptian Room of Mansion House, London, June 2012.
  • Organ and Trumpet: Richard Hall, organ, and Robert Landen, trumpet, in St Mary le Bow Church, Cheapside, London, June 2012.
  • Brahms’ String Sextet #2 in G and Mendelssohn’s Octet, performed by the Piatti and Castalian Quartets in Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, 3 May 2012.   The Sextet was performed by the Castalian 4tet together with David Wigram (viola) and Jessie Richardson (cello) from the Piatti.  The Octet had some unfamiliarities:  chiefly, an extra note after each ascending phrase in the 1st violin in the theme of the first movement, the extra note being lower than the top of the phrase.  The first time, I thought I heard a mistake.  A second time and I thought perhaps I was hearing some acoustic artefact, an echo perhaps.   By the time the theme returned, with these extra notes still to be heard on each phrase, I thought either a deliberate affectation or perhaps the performers were not playing the standard score.   Was this the original manuscript version, perhaps, which Mendelssohn later revised?   In any case, the standard version is better, as the force of the ascending phrase is reduced with a lower note after each top-most one.
  • Bach’s St John’s Passion, Solistes de Musique Ancienne and Siglo de Oro in St Stephen’s Church, Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London, April 2012.
  • Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Britten Sinfonia and Sinfonia Voices, under Andreas Delfs, London Barbican, March 2012.
  • Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Baroque Ensemble of The Royal Academy of Music and the Choir of King’s College London, under David Trendell, King’s College Chapel, London, February 2012.  An excellent and moving performance. The acoustics of the KCL Chapel are very clear, with little reverb, and the sound was full.  The organ continuo part was shared by Christopher Woodward and Richard Hall, the current College Organ Scholars.
  • Pekka Kuusisto (violin) and Britten Sinfonia under Thomas Ades, in a program of Couperin, Stravinsky and Ades (Violin Concerto), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, February 2012. PK also briefly played the piano.
  • Baiba Skride (violin) and Lauma Skride (piano) in Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat (K454) and Mendelssohn’s Sonata in F, Wigmore Hall, London, December 2011.
  • Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra under Yuri Bashmet, London, December 2011.
  • Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (excerpts) and Mass in B Minor, Brandenburg Baroque Soloists and Medici Choir, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London, December 2011.
  • Handel’s Messiah, Solistes de Musique Ancienne and Siglo de Oro in the Church of St Giles-in-the-Field, Holborn, London, December 2011.
  • Mendelssohn in Wigmore Street:  Scottish Ensemble and Alasdair Beatson playing Stravinsky and Mendelssohn, Wigmore Hall, London, October 2011.
  • Queensland Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra, under Michael Morgan and with Cameron Jamieson (violin), playing Mozart and Arriaga, Brisbane, August 2011.
  • String Fest 2011, including Grammar Chamber Strings, Ferny Grove State High School Chamber Orchestra, Mansfield High School Camerata, Brisbane Girls Grammar School Senior Strings, Somerville House Strings, and the Festival String Orchestra, at Brisbane Grammar School, August 2011.
  • A Celebration of 125 Years of the Salvation Army in Bundamba, Queensland, August 2011.
  • Premiere of Two Boys, opera by Nico Muhly, performed by English National Opera, London, June 2011:  I say thee, Yay, Mr Muhly, Yay!
  • Daniel Hope (violin) and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s E-Minor Violin Concerto (original version) and Respighi’s Pines of Rome at Royal Festival Hall, London, May 2011.
  • Mulatu Astatke (vibes, keyboards, percussion) at Jazz Cafe, Camden, May 2011.
  • Luka Sulic (cello) and Nadav Hertzka (piano) at Wigmore Hall, London, May 2011.  Winner’s Recital for the RAM Patron’s Award 2011.   Program included Debussy Cello Sonata, Sibelius (Valse, Berceuse and Rondino) and Britten’s Cello Sonata in C.   A superb performance. I could only catch the first half, which meant I left humming the catchy final theme of the Britten.  Both these artists will be worth watching in the future.

Continue reading ‘Concert concat’




Firebird in Bologna

A superb concert last night in Bologna, with Orchestra Mozart and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra combining forces under young conductor Diego Matheuz.    The concert took place in Auditorium Manzoni, where I have enjoyed concerts before, sometimes under Maestro Abbado.  This hall has a relatively modern interior, almost fan-shaped, with undulating wooden walls and an undulating wooden ceiling over the stage.  The acoustic is warm, bright and fast.  The stage is only small, and barely took the forces arranged last night.   The cellos were placed in the middle, with the violas on the conductor’s immediate right, and so the sound of the violas may well have been lost.   Similarly, only the percussion and brass were (slightly) elevated, the woodwinds seated at the same level as the strings. I was close enough not to miss anything from these placements.

Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto was played by Vadim Repin, who also played Ravel’s violin rhapsody, Tzigane.  Both pieces were fiery and technically impressive, my strong distaste for Prokofiev’s music notwithstanding.   His music strikes me as truly incoherent, using types of expression (eg, multiple simultaneous keys) and modes of musical cognition that are alien to me.  My distaste is stronger than mere dislike, being incomprehension.   The abrupt change in mood, for example, between the second and third movements, seems meant to provoke the listener, as if to say, I have the power to change your attitude to this music at a whim, and to prove it, I will now do it. Who could enjoy the company of such a person?

I have heard Repin perform before, a few years ago in Barcelona (playing the Sibelius concerto).  As on that occasion, he encored with theme and variations of Carnival of Venice, a crowd-stopping showpiece of skill and effects made famous for violinists by Pagannini and for trumpeters by Arban.   This time, however, Repin began with a fiery introduction, then detoured into several bars of accompaniment vamping before launching the theme.  The vamping allowed him to signal to the orchestral musicians what to play as they joined him, something he had tried unsuccessfully in Barcelona while himself playing the theme.

The concert also included Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, in what was certainly the most thrilling, spine-tingling, edge-of-seat performance of this work I have ever heard.  Matheuz conducted from memory, which is not nothing for this jagged music, and his energy and enthusiasm was compelling.   The principal violinists had swapped places for this piece.   Before the interval, the principal for the Mahler CO, Gregory Ahss, was lead.   For the Stravinsky after interval, Orchestra Mozart’s principal, Raphael Christ, took over.   I was seated close enough to see them play, and both were very impressive.   Both people to watch, along with Matheuz.

Programme:

Maurice Ravel:  Daphnis et Chloé, Suite #2.
Sergei Prokofiev: Concerto for Violin  #1 in D Major op. 19
Maurice Ravel: Tzigane, Rhapsody for violin and orchestra
Igor Stravinsky:  L’Oiseau de feu (Suite, version of 1919).

The Auditorium Manzoni is mildly fan-shaped, a shape that is not common for concert halls.  (Another example is the art deco Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, UK, whose fan shape is much more pronounced.)  The walls around the stage and the hall, along with the ceiling over the stage have an undulating wooden veneer, which would help sound propagation in diverse directions.   The balcony overhands a large part of the auditorium, but at quite a high level, so that seats under the balcony are not “dark” in terms of the sounds they receive from the stage.

The photo shows Claudio Abbado in London in October 2011 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which shares members with the ensemble seen in Bologna .  Credit:  Chris Christodoulou.




Classical Violinists

Hearing a concert by Vadim Repin, the second time I have heard him play, I thought to list all the classical solo violinists I have heard perform live (in alpha order, with the music where recalled):

  • Alena Baeva – Mendelssohn’s D minor Concerto (Moscow Soloists Chamber Ensemble, London 2011)
  • Joshua Bell – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (London), Mozart Concertos (Manchester), and the Concerto of Behzad Ranjbaran (world premiere, Liverpool)
  • James Ehnes (Manchester)
  • Konrad Elias-Trostmann -Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (Sinfonia d’Amici, London, April 2014)
  • Thomas Gould – e-Violin Concerto of Nico Muhly (world premiere, London)
  • Giovanni Guzzo – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (L’Orchestre du Monde, under Janusz Piotrowicz,  Cadogan Hall, London, May 2014)
  • Simon Hewitt Jones (Liverpool)
  • Daniel Hope – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (both the standard and the original versions, London)
  • Alina Ibragimova – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (London, 2012);  Schumann’s Concerto, with the London Symphony Orchestra (London, 2014).  Schumann wrote his concerto for Joachim (pictured), who never performed it publicly, and tried to keep it out of print for a long time.   Pity that Joachim did not succeed.
  • Cameron Jamieson – Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto (Brisbane 2011)
  • Sergey Khachatryan (Manchester)
  • So Ock Kim – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (London)
  • Gidon Kremer (Copenhagen)
  • Pekka Kuusisto – Concerto for Violin by Thomas Ades (Britten Sinfonia, London, 2012); Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (RCM Chamber Orchestra and Sacconi Quartet, Folkestone, May 2014); Bach’s D Minor Partita (Improvisation with Teemu Korpipaa, Folkestone, May 2014).
  • Tasmin Little – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (Liverpool 2003),  and (Manchester)
  • Jonathan Morton – Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D Minor (London 2011)
  • Rachel Podger – Bach Double in D min (Manchester)
  • Vadim Repin – Sibelius’ Concerto (Barcelona) and Prokofiev’s Concerto #1 (Bologna 2011)
  • Linus Roth (Liverpool)
  • Baiba Skride – Mozart and Mendelssohn Sonatas (London 2011)
  • Valeriy Sokolov – Sibelius’ Concerto (Manchester)
  • Christian Tetzlaff – Bach Partita #2 in Dm & Sonata #3 in C, and Beethoven Concerto (London 2015)
  • Richard Tognetti (Sydney, Brisbane 2009)
  • Nikolaj Znaider – Tchaikovsky Concerto (London 2015)

The drawing is Adoph Menzel’s 1853 drawing of Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), famously a pupil of Mendelssohn and a cousin of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s grandmother.   Joachim taught Jeno Hubay (1858-1937), who taught Leo Birsen (1902-1992), with whom I had some lessons.




Caravan in Brisbane

While posting about great jazz gigs, I remembered one superb performance I’d forgotten to record.   On 27 November 2009, I heard a gypsy-style jazz group play at Brisbane Jazz Club.  The Club has a million-dollar location at Kangaroo Point on the Brisbane River, looking back towards the city.   The photo above shows the view from the Club.  Watching performers against a large window showing a darkening city skyscape across the water was just magical.  I hope that the club can recover from the recent floods and return to their home.

The audience that night was about 50, including tables of people speaking Japanese and Russian.  The band was advertised as Cam Ford’s Gypsy Swingers, but I’m not sure everyone was there.  The line-up included  Ian Date, leader, on acoustic guitar and trumpet, his brother Nigel Date on acoustic guitar, Daniel Weltlinger on violin, and two players whose names I failed to catch – an acoustic guitarist and an electric bass player.    Later in the evening, the five were joined by another acoustic guitarist and a clarinet player (Dan?).  The music included some flamenco (to be expected with all those guitars) and was mostly 1920s Hot Club de France-style arrangements.    Most pieces had a fast, 4/4 tradjazz beat, with the bass playing a walking bass part.    This is a style of jazz I am not fond of, since much of it sounds the same, but the players showed real skill.   The violin or the lead guitar usually played a solo over the top, or sometimes, the two – violin and lead guitar – played a call-and-response duet.    These tunes were all done with energy, enthusiasm and skill.

With the full line-up of seven, the group played an absolutely superb arrangement of Caravan, a song I have blogged about before.  The arrangement began with the violin playing the melody over guitar rhythms and an ostinato bass.    This first run through was then followed by several choruses where the melody was played  in unison first by the violin and one guitar, and then with a second guitar playing a 2nd or a 3rd higher than the unison part.  The effect of this was something like an Hawaiiwan guitar, and created a sound that was iridescent, shimmering like the flickering lights on the river in the window behind the musicians.

To me, the stand-out  performer on the night was the violinist, Daniel Weltlinger, whom nothing seemed to faze.  At one point, when the two additional players joined, he was shouting chord changes to the clarinetist while improvising his own solo at the same time.

(Photo credits:  Brisbane Jazz Club and Daniel Weltlinger.)