ABR Arts Music

Winterreise (Sydney Festival) ★★★★★

Michael Halliwell
08 January 2016

The protagonist of Thomas Mann's great novel, The Magic Mountain (1924), Hans Castorp, goes into battle, and almost certainly his death, at the end of the book singing 'Der Lindenbaum' from Schubert's song cycle, Winterreise: The song meant a great deal to him, a whole world ... His fate ...

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Judas Maccabæus (St. George’s Cathedral Consort)

William Yeoman
14 December 2015

Airings of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus are now so rare it is easy to forget that it was, in the composer's day and along with Messiah and perhaps Samson, among his most frequently performed oratorios. Nobody present at this electrifying account by a stellar quartet of soloists, the St George's Cathedral Consort ...

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Maxim Vengerov (Musica Viva)

Christopher Menz
09 December 2015

In a program spanning two hundred years of violin playing – from Bach to Ravel via Beethoven, Ernst, Paganini, and Ysaÿe, with encores by Brahms and Massenet – Maxim Vengerov enthralled his Melbourne audience with incomparable musicianship and an often dazzling technique. Demonstrating his command of the ...

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Thus Spake Zarathustra (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

Christopher Menz
01 December 2015

As if to make the point that Richard Wagner's shadow looms over all the classical music that followed him, this Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert entitled Thus Spake Zarathustra began and ended with him.

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Tchaikovsky & Grieg (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

Christopher Menz
16 November 2015

After his Adelaide concert, Grosvenor concluded his Australian tour with a stellar performance of the Grieg piano concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Asher Fisch, first in Geelong then in Melbourne. The concerto was flanked by Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture and his Fourth Symphony. Even such an exuberant program, with the full forces of the orchestra in fine form, proved the power of music to provide the necessary solace following news of the dreadful events in Paris on 13 November.

Grosvenor demonstrated his perfect artistry and musicianship, bringing extraordinary subtlety of expression to a work better known for its bombastic passages and hair-raising exposed entries for the soloist.

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Benjamin Grosvenor Recital (Recitals Australia)

Michael Morley
10 November 2015

By now, it is more or less de rigueur to prefix comments on Benjamin Grosvenor's abilities at the keyboard by mentioning his age. Well, yes, it has to be said that, at twenty-three, there is more than a touch of the Wunderkind about what he does. But make no mistake: this is a serious, talented, imaginative, and committed musician who makes some of his more hyped co ...

2015 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues

Des Cowley
09 November 2015

This year's Wangaratta Festival delivered two outstanding performances of extended works composed for large ensembles: Dave Douglas's suite Fabliaux and Lloyd Swanton's Ambon, inspired by his uncle's experiences as a prisoner of war from 1942–45.

American trumpeter Dave Douglas has been a leading figure in jazz since the early 1990s, when ...

In 2012 Stephen Sondheim reacted rather unexpectedly to a new production entitled 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess'. The original show, which itself has undergone multiple transformations since its première in 1935, was somewhat rewritten, incorporating new scenes, additional dialogue, revised orchestrations, the insertion of new biographical details, as wel ...

Patti Smith's Horses (Melbourne Festival)

Doug Wallen
21 October 2015

Released in 1975, the début album by American songwriter, poet, artist, and memoirist Patti Smith captured a volatile alchemy of past and future modes. Horses came out of the much-mythologised rock scene of 1970s New York City, but also fed on the unbridled lyrical freedom of Beat poetry, the firmer narrative tradition of hymns, and the bodily release of f ...

Letter from Milan

Ian Dickson
21 October 2015

Spurred on by Expo Milan, La Scala is having a busy couple of months. Entitled Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, the Expo is supposed to stimulate ideas for sustainable nutrition in a world with a rapidly expanding population and an equally rapidly diminishing arable area. However, the report from those who have braved the enormous crowds and endless que ...