Tag Archives: Jessica Ipkendanz

Jessica Ipkendanz (violin and voice)

Conservatorium Auditorium


reviewed by Neville Cohn


For violinists, surely one of the most formidable challenges must be the presentation of an unaccompanied recital – not least because most of the repertoire is horrendously difficult to bring off successfully. Here, the slightest lapse, be it of intonation, notational accuracy or stylistic vagary, is at once glaringly evident. So it was with particular interest that one listened to Jessica Ipkendanz in that loftiest peak of unaccompanied expression – Bach’s Partita in D minor.

This is unforgiving, unforgettable music, not least the massive Chaconne that brings the Partita to a conclusion.

There is about Ipkendanz’s platform presence, a strength of purpose – some might say it verges on defiance – striding to centre stage and with no fuss and little ceremony, launching into Annunciation, her own composition. She plays as if totally absorbed, wielding her bow like some enchanted spear as measure after measure of the most passionately intense music pours from the violin.

Then, quite unexpectedly, the playing ceases to be an unaccompanied offering as Ipkendanz, startlingly, begins to sing – a wordless vocalise, which projects arrow-like, to the furthest corners of the venue – to an accompaniment of robust violin arabesques. Here, one would very much have liked to have had an explanatory program note regarding the genesis and development of this remarkable offering.

It is a most unusual experience that sears itself into the memory.

Then the Partita: the sense of power that had informed Annunciation is everywhere apparent here. Like all the rest of the program, it is played from memory. Her tempi are invariably sensible, her rhythm rock-solid. And the grandeur that is the essence of so much of the work, especially the Chaconne, is revealed.

On the debit side of this otherwise splendidly healthy musical balance sheet is tonal monotony, an almost unvaryingly substantial sound. Could this perhaps be a miscalculation in coming to terms with the venue’s
notoriously bright acoustics? But it is only on this count that the offering is less than satisfying.

In the Sarabande, chords are wonderfully well sustained and the Gigue is a joyful, vigorous prelude to the Chaconne, a monumental challenge that is met in the most unhurried and dignified way.

Ipkendanz’s own Obsession is the final work which, stylistically, makes a lavish obeisance to Wieniawski. Whining double stopping and chassidic-like minor-key melodies make this compelling listening.

Copyright 2006 Neville Cohn

Equinox Quarry Room, Joondalup Resort



Quarry Room, Joondalup Resort

reviewed by Olive Mountbatten

On a stiflingly hot day, one of the most oppressive of a summer that’s been around too long, concert organisers wisely opted to change the venue for Equinox’s concert from outdoors to the blissful, air-conditioned comfort of the Resort’s Quarry Room. And even if 11:30am is perhaps a less-than-ideal time of day to present a program largely devoted to tangos (music that for many, if not most, followers is inextricably associated with the night), the ensemble – Cathie Travers (accordion), Jessica Ipkendanz (violin), Mark Shanahan (guitar) and Pete Jeavons (double bass) – set to with a will.

This was a generous compilation that was largely devoted to the music of tango meister Astor Piazzolla (whose music Travers has done more than anyone locally to make available to a large audience) but included items by other composers, including Zequinha Abreu whose Tico Tico, the 1943 evergreen piano hit that seems never to have lost its charms for both musicians and listeners (and is considered in some quarters to have its source in a section of the finale of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1!).

Of the Piazzolla pieces, I particularly liked the Equinox tango band’s account of Milonga del Angel, unfolding, as it did, in an introverted, dreamy way that irresistibly evoked images of couples drifting languidly across some inner city dance floor. And in Adios Nonino, Ipkendanz’s violin sang with great feeling and warm tone; this was some of the most haunting, bittersweet music of the recital. Michelangelo at 70, too, held the attention with its rushing violin glissandi that sounded like cries. I liked, too, Richard Galiano’s New York Tango, given altogether appropriate, blazingly intense treatment ­ and the near-mesmeric throbbing of Piazzolla’s Libertango.

This concert was given in the context of the Joondalup Festival.

Copyright Olive Mountbatten 2004

The Latin Gypsy Experiment

The Latin Gypsy Experiment


Kulcha, Fremantle

reviewed by Stuart Hille 

Jessica Ipkendanz, has managed to ‘create’ a type of fusion music – Latin American/Romany ­ that, without doubt, will become widely popular and, probably, quite lucrative. It works successfully, not just by the quality of the performance and the obvious accomplishment of the performance, but also by the ‘je ne sais quoi’ ambience that trawls a wide cross-section of community tastes and ages. While the style of the music is somewhat too accessible for this reviewer, it was, nevertheless, a privilege, on this occasion to leave satisfied with the unusually happy confidence that this particular musical/cultural fusion is destined to go places (and not just nationally).

However, salutations aside, this concert revealed the urgent need to engage the service of a top-flight manager. Someone of the experience and visionary calibre of Lynne Schwan or Lynne Burford, would have foreseen and circumvented, with a deft hand, the problems that arose on this occasion.

There were unnecessary encumbrances, before and during this recital, that need to be highlighted here for the benefit of the performers and the education of the audience. An advertised 8:30pm start is considered late, but isn’t a 30 minute delay – as there was on this occasion ­ pushing boundaries a little too far? Moreover, the bar should be closed at least 5 minutes prior to the concert so patrons can take their seats. The seating arrangements should optimistically take into account a maximum audience volume to avoid people standing at the back of the performance space (or still waiting at the bar!). Furthermore, a better venue, unfettered by the surrounding traffic and people noises on a busy Fremantle night, should be found. Programme notes must be provided because an audience needs some sort of information on what is on offer and, most essentially, amplification should only be used if it enhances – not sharpens or piques – the aural experience. An accomplished manger knows how to negotiate these issues.

Amplification imbalance created some harmonic unevenness throughout the concert. Ipkendanz’s co-performers – Marco Quiroz and Gabriel Segovia – gave excellent support but were muted by using free-standing microphones as opposed to the contact microphone (at least I think it was, from the back of the auditorium) on the violin.

In fact, acoustical electronic strengthening is inconsistent or antithetical to the nature of this music. The essence of such, essentially, is one of spontaneous, robust expression and therefore, amplification should only be used if it has some sort of creative, assessed with careful thought, practical enhancement.

Nevertheless, Ms Ipkendanz and her co-performers shone. Collectively, they displayed spirit, technical prowess and enthusiasm.

Ipkendanz shows confident and well-executed virtuosity. Her double-stopping, smooth change of register and general bow technique are impeccable, but there is a need to address rapid pizzicati (an essential element of this fusion) and properly turned ornamentation.

Off-loading the annoying dance couple at the side of the audience, removing amplification, presenting a wider scope of contrasting styles and employing a focussed manager (the key element) will assure this imaginative project a secure future.