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John Lanceley

Concert review, journo at work :)

July 12, 2006 at 4:30 PM

Wow. Octaves are hard. I thought that my technique had survived my recent holiday attitude, but it seems that my octaves havent. Darn. Maybe if I dont practice anything at all all day, I should just go up and down the fingerboard in chromatic octaves to keep my hand frame in. Anyway enough whinging, I want to write a review on the concert I just attended.
Australian Chamber Orchestra with guest director Anthony Marwood. English violinist, who recently won a best instrumentalist university prize. They played Barbers string quartet in Bm (the one with the famous adagio), Medelssohn Dm concerto, and Beethovens C# minor quartet. The barber was really beautiful, very dynamic playing, flawless ensemble and great purity of sound and intonation. It was a fairly small group of players, but the sound was very focussed and resonant. The Dm concerto was particularly impressive, Mr Marwood's tone was pure, flowing and varied. The tempo was very brisk and daring, but there was not a hint of rushed fingers, and once again the ensemble was flawless. The work is a really cheeky piece, the solo figuration is distinctly classical but with a hint of flashiness to it. Mendelssohn wrote it when he was 13, which beggars belief. Very nice little concerto indeed (barely 20 mins)!
Onto the Beethoven, which is a piece I love so much. I have the Alban Berg Quartet's live recording of this, which is unbelievably good. So the ACO had a lot to live up to! Not surprisingly I found the playing to be a bit flat, there was hardly any changes of character from movement to movement, and I though that the tempis could have been a bit more diverse. I would have liked a bit more vibrato in the first movement, at times it sounded very bare and almost as if you had put the score into a computer. The last movement picked up a bit, although the brisk tempo did waver in places. Also I though that they could have been more daring in the sul ponticello section. But the playing had much more fire towards the end. The overall technique and ensemble in the concert was brilliant, just for me I think a bit more phrasing and details in the Beethoven would have topped it off. But overall it was very good.
Ok more octaves/ torture

From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on July 12, 2006 at 7:41 PM
I think it was Flesch who said that octaves should be practiced every day because of their importance in the shape of the hand.

I like Beethoven's c-sharp minor quartet. I have a recording of the late string quartets by the Emerson String Quartet. I also heard the Emerson SQ live on the radio when they playing that specific quartet at the University of Georgia. I always have liked the ponticello part. It sounds like rats running across broken glass.

And how uncommon is it to hear the Mendelssohn concerto in d minor?

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