Christ Church Grammar School Chapel

reviewed by Neville Cohn


If the Eileen Joyce Studio on the University of WA campus is one of the country’s most pleasingly appointed intimate recital rooms, the Chapel of Christ Church Grammar School, Claremont is its equivalent on a larger scale. Certainly, listening to music while looking out over a boat-dotted Freshwater Bay as dusk fell, was a most agreeable experience.

And the gentle pleasure of a Sunday twilight was significantly enhanced by the performance of Leonardo – Cathie Travers (accordion), Paul Tanner (percussion) and Phil Everall (bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet).

Much of the repertoire on offer was music which, to one extent or another, evoked moods of yearning and nostalgia. Certainly, this would apply to Richard Galliano’s New York Tango in which a pulsing bass clarinet combined with the richly sonorous tones of the accordion, a sound mix further enhanced by some very sensitive playing on the vibraphone.

The same composer’s Fou Rire occupies a very different mood world, its lively, up-tempo measures in the best sense buoyant.

Piazzolla’s Milonga del Angel, on the other hand, is music pared to the bone; it hasn’t a superfluous note. As ever, its subdued mood which powerfully suggests a sense of loneliness and worldweariness, made magical, hushed listening. So, too, did the same composer’s Grand Tango in which nuanced subtleties and a moody blues quality combined to most satisfying effect.

Paul Tanner’s mysteriously titled Back in 1516 is a jazz-inflected piece I’ve not encountered before, holding the attention throughout with its abrupt rhythmic gear changes, gentle burpings from the contrabass clarinet to an overlay of vibraphone arabesques. There was also music for unaccompanied bass clarinet – Iain Grandage’s curiously named ffDuck, much of it couched in abrupt, jagged utterances laced with what sounded like little screams. A little of this went a long way.

In Galliano’s French Touch, Cathie Travers provided a pleasant antidote to what had gone before, a virtuosic solo for accordion that sounded veritably drenched in Parisian café atmosphere. Tanner’s marimba solo – one of Gordon Stout’s Mexican Dances – was another charm-filled interlude that was musical to the core.

This concert raised funds for Anglicare.

Copyright Neville Cohn 2006

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