READ TIME – 2.00min
Concert Details City Recital Hall – Angel Place, Sydney, Australia
Wed, 24 February, 7:00 PM
Maurice Steger (Switzerland) baroque recorders
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Guest Director Maurice Steger
Vivaldi Concerto RV 443 in G major
Gallo Sonata No. 12 La Follia in G minor
Telemann Concerto for 3 Trumpets TWV 54:D4 in D major
Fiorenza Sinfonia in A minor
Handel Overture to Judas Maccabeus HWV 63 in G minor
Vivaldi Concerto Il gardellino RV 428 in D major
Rittler Ciaccona a 7 in C major
Geminiani After Corelli’s Op. 5 violin sonatas Concerto for recorder No. 10 in F major
Wow! Was the first thing I said when Maurice Steger started playing and wow! was the first thing Artistic Director of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Paul Dyer said when the concert finished and there plenty of wows! along the way too.
Maurice Steger’s ability and facility with those humble, brittle, tiny instruments that we and our parents suffered through in year two, has to be seen to be believed. Fast playing in and of itself can be impressive but Maurice Steger was crazy fast but every note was audible and the phrasing and dynamics were flawless.
Vivaldi must have had a wicked sense of humour to write such challenging pieces for his soloists.
The movement, the faces, the smile, the dancing, the interaction with the orchestra and importantly the love. The love? Yes, the love. He engaged and included his audience every step of the way. It was a near-perfect synthesis of performance and musicianship. It was Brendon McCullum smashing the fastest ever test century. It was the Emmanuel brothers in full flight at the Greengate Hotel circa 1986. It was David Campese out running Rob Ackerman.
The programing was excellent too. Paul Dyer unearthed a work by German composer Phillip Kajob Rittler (1637 – 1690). Ciaccona a 7 in C major. It’s on a ground bass and only has about 3 chords so it builds dynamically and with some harmonic development. The great thing about this reading was that most of the harmonic development was improvised. Yes, we had Jazz, Shakespeare style and it was sublime. Modern harmonies and phrases over a 15th century bass line. Very beautiful.
Getting back to Maurice Steger. I bumped into a friend after the performance who is a professional recorder player and she assured me that he was the goods. His technique was flawless and exhilarating. He also broke every rule in the book re breathing, over-blowing and phrasing, but when you’re that good you can do what you like.
I must make mention of the Telemann Concerto for 3 trumpets (TWV 54;D4 in D Major). The soloists Leanne Sullivan, Rainer Saville and Helen Gill were outstanding. Baroque trumpets have no valves but rather rely on removable crooks and sound holes (like a recorder) for playing. It’s a bit like changing gears without a clutch in the rain with no wipers and in the dark with no lights. Making them sound smooth and beautiful is very hard. This trio were as outstanding as they were brave and talented.
Well done the Brandies, Paul Dyer and Maurice Steger!
I wish all chamber orchestras were this brave in their programming and performances.
WRITTEN BY: ANDREW VALENTINE