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ACO: Romatic Symphony

Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) present Tour Four ROMANTIC SYMPHONY at Angel Place, Sydney.

The first piece presented in this concert was by contemporary composer Jonny Greenwood. Most of us would recognize Mr Greenwood as the lead guitarist of the band Radiohead. Mr Greenwood is, however,no stranger to classical music, early influences have included Messiaen, Penderecki and Ligeti and he started out as a viola player. He “has been building a career as an orchestral composer, both in film soundtracks (BODYSONG, NORWEGIAN WOOD, THERE WILL BE BLOOD) and through an ongoing association with the BBC Concert Orchestra. From a BBC Orchestra’s commission came the work played in this concert: POPCORN SUPERHET RECEIVER (2005, revised 2007).

“The score is a maze of glissandos and tremolos, punctuated by slapped, plucked, and bowed syncopated transients, with a distinctly rock-influenced section” (from concert program notes). Indeed, it is when the orchestra were required to hold and play their instruments (Guarneri, Guadagnini et al.) as if they were guitars, that I felt a wry smirk cross my face. Is he taking the mickey with these orchestra players? Whatever, the piece was stimulating and quirky and enjoyable to attend to.Others thought so too in my audience. The piece in 2006 won the Radio 3 Listener’s Award at the British Composer Awards. “The music was subsequently adapted for Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film THERE WILL BE BLOOD.” (from concert program notes) Ah ha, that is why it was slightly familiar? Must rent the movie soon!!!!

The second piece was the Schubert Symphony No.8 in B minor,D759,”Unfinished”. The orchestra augmented with brass, woodwind and timpani, this was a very pleasant hearing of a work not known to me.

After the interval, Brahms Symphony No.1 in C minor, OP.68 (1876), in four movements with the enlarged orchestra, was given. Again,a new work in my slowly growing concert going education, and usually,I have a hard time appreciating the music of Brahms with full concentration but in this instant the orchestra gave a scintillating, and in the final movement,a rousing and excited performance, such that we cheered and stamped our feet with a warm glow of affected emotions. Brahms is regarded as one of the great composers of what is called the ROMANTIC music. This symphony came in the middle of his endeavors, 1876; (b.1833 – d.1897) It was some twenty years in the preparation, according to the musicologists. Apparently much influenced by his regard for the past in music composition he was branded a musical conservative and there is certainly sound connections to the Beethovian heritage. But. this thrillingly stood on its own as a score to hear again.

A crowded concert platform took many calls under the care of Richard Tognetti. A satisfying night, traveling aurally from the Greenwood contemporary “avant-garde Romanticism” to the historic great of romanticism: Brahms, via Schubert.