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ACO: Brahms Symphony No.3 and Mozart Sinfonia Concertante

Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) present Brahms 3, Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, at the Sydney City Recital Hall, Angel Place, 18 Aug – 22 Aug.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in its biggest formation this year, brought some 50 musicians onto the stage. The sound is full and electric. The concert began with an exuberantly passionate ‘reading’ of the Overture from the opera, THE MAGIC FLUTE, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791). The experience was surprising and arousing taken with a speed that had me hearing the work as if it were the first time. The dramatics of the scoring were delivered with a near perfect clarity and contrast – I was compelled to sit up and listen to the infectious propulsion of it all.

To follow was a playing of Mozart’s SINFONIA CONCERTANTE in E – flat, K.364 (1779). With the orchestra, a zesty play-off between the violin and the viola is the feature of the work. Richard Tognetti, on violin, and Christopher Moore, on viola, recreating the demands of this work that they first performed in 2009, delivered the music as a kind of duelling between string instruments that caused me to reminisce about the archetypal thrill of the ‘Duelling Banjoes’ in that amazing film, DELIVERANCE (1972). Ha. Not that there is any sound scoring of any similarity but rather in this performance, the competitive joy between the two soloists was evident and a thrill to witness, both, as an aural experience as well as a visual one. The two players seemed to benefit and enjoy the proximity of their physical closeness and the stimulation of Mozart’s music. There was often a daring of each other, and the taking of the risk of a ‘glorious failure’, that merely demonstrated the ultimate trust in the equal mindfulness of the love of playing, making music, that these two musicians, obviously share. So much so, that I was brought to many gulps of joy through tears and/or tears through laughter of excitement. A session of music making that left one on a ‘high’ of adrenalin buzz. Amazing. Thrilling.

After the interval, Symphony No.3 in F major, Op.90 (1883), by Johannes Brahms. I have never heard much of Brahms and certainly not this Symphony. It began with a dramatic crash of ‘sound’ compelling attention and immersing one into the journey. The scale, size, of the ACO orchestra created a sonic interest where force became the propelling element. Contrasted with the second movement Andante, the work revealed the truth of the program quotation by Gordon Kerry:

… it is a work that essays many emotional states in a highly dramatic fashion, and leads to a conclusion of great peace.

The concert was a great experience. Once again, the ACO gave a rewarding reason to be with them.