I’ve been a fan of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for years and after a hiatus of two years while I lived overseas, it’s great to hear them play again in top form.
From any professional orchestra you’d expect excellent musicality as a baseline. What makes the ACO special in my mind is that they are also a fabulously visual orchestra. All of the musicians stand up (in fact, they used to have a petite violinist who had to stand on a crate) and their passion for the music is expressed not only through their instruments but in the swaying, tilting, dancing and leaping of their bodies. It’s particularly thrilling when the musicians stare engrossed at a single point from their semicircle and the bows snap the notes out in dramatic unison.
For their recent concert at Hamer Hall ‘Tognetti’s Mozart’, the program was a selection of pieces by familiar 18th and 19th century composers. Schubert’s Quartettsatz, D703 was a sweet introduction to the Mozart Violin Concerto No.4, K218 with Artistic Director Richard Tognetti drawing beautiful cantabile tones from his $10 million “Carrodus” violin. After the interval, Grieg’s String Quartet in G minor (arranged by Tognetti) was a vivid and fiery work and sometimes a romp in cheeky knowingness, in contrast to the generally jolly Haydn Symphony No.46.