Tag Archives: Musica Viva

Musica Viva 2011


by Neville Cohn


For the first time in fifteen years, Australia will be able to listen to the rare artistry of Sabine Meyer, clarinettist extraordinaire. This superb musician came to worldwide notice after she was voted out – 73 to 4 – by her fellow musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s widely acknowledged that this had absolutely nothing to do with her musicianship – she is, at best, peerless – but was due to the refusal on the part of her fellow players to tolerate admitting a woman to the ranks of the BPO.  It was their loss; years on, Sabine Meyer is celebrated internationally as one of the very greatest exponents of the clarinet.

 Sabine Meyer

Musica Viva presents this fine musician in ensemble with the Paris-based Modigliani String Quartet. Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet will give Perth concertgoers the opportunity  to savour Meyer’s musicianship. Ian Munro, Musica Viva’s resident composer for 2010, will be represented by his own Clarinet Quintet subtitled Songs from the Bush.

 Ian Munro

Munro is perhaps better known for his skill as a pianist. He will front up with the Goldner String Quartet in his own Piano Quintet as well as the much loved Piano Quintet in A by Dvorak.


Multiple international prize winning pianist Stephen Hough will play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as well as Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, two sonatas by Scriabin and his own Broken Branches, a suite of 16 short pieces.

 Stephen Hough

String Quartets have been the backbone of Musica Viva’s presentations since its  inception and we will have the opportunity to listen to Beethoven’s superb Quartet No 16, opus 135 played by the Brentano Quartet which is based in the USA. There will also be works by Mozart and Ian Munro.


Another great favourite of Australian audiences, counter tenor Andreas Scholl, will, as ever, enchant audiences with his unique artistry in music by Purcell and Handel. His program will be presented in association with the W.A.Opera Company. And recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey will appear in ensemble with the Concerto Copenhagen in music by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann.


Brochures with full details of Musica Viva’s 2010 concerts are now available in the foyer of Perth Concert Hall.

Wood Llama Bar, Subiaco



Llama Bar, Subiaco

reviewed by Neville Cohn 

Musica Viva’s Menage concert series, designed to tempt young adults to taste the delights of chamber music, is an experiment that has begun to work. At earlier events, this did not seem to be the case with audiences consisting almost exclusively of regular concertgoers. But at a jam-packed Llama Bar in Subiaco’s Rokeby Road ­ it would have been difficult to swing a canary there, let alone the proverbial cat – most of the faces of those gathered were new to me. More significantly, they were prepared to stand, without complaint, throughout the performance and did the musicians the courtesy of listening to them in engrossed silence. And if the cheers that broke out after each item are any guide, there’s little doubt that, insofar as the audience was concerned, wood was pressing all the right buttons.

Wood is a recently formed ensemble made up of four cellists and a percussionist.

Seated on a dais set up against a corner of the venue, amid a little forest of microphones recording the performance for later broadcast by ABC-FM, wood offered an eclectic selection that ranged from the works of Bartok, Estonian composer Arvo Part and minimalism master Steve Reich to arrangements of pieces by Sting, Nitin Sawnhey and members of wood, such as Melanie Robinson’s Sink.

Here, she contributed vocals that irresistibly called to mind the idiosyncratic articulation of Edith Sitwell in William Walton’s Façade. Iain Grandage’s Asp included an engaging tango episode a la Piazzolla ­ and later in the evening we heard what sounded a tongue-in-cheek send-up of an Hungarian czardas.

The meatiest fare was offered in the first half which included a bracket of arrangements of Bartok, notably two of his dances in Bulgarian rhythm with gutsy, emphatic rhythmic underpinning and a grainy, at times raspy, tone quality that suited these earthy, folksy items very well.

Buciumeana, that gentle, minuet-like dance from Rumania, made its point despite the maddeningly intrusive humming of air conditioners. As well, the performance suffered from uncertain intonation, a problem that reared its head on and off through the evening due, I dare say, if only in part, to the combined effect on cello strings of body heat in an enclosed space and shafts of cold air when the bar doors were opened. Pitch was insecure, too, in a movement from Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.

Throughout, one was given the impression that wood has something worthwhile to say in musical terms, not least in Part’s Fratres which seems set to become the Estonian equivalent of Barber’s Adagio so far as popularity with audiences is concerned, an eerie-sounding, slowly unfolding processional that, once heard, haunts the mind. Like the best of Bach, Fratres works its magic even in the most unlikely transcriptions and this version by wood certainly gripped the attention with its rich, dark sonorities although, again, there were waverings of pitch. Sting’s A Thousand Years was given memorable treatment, ushered in by Genevieve Wilkins’ silken touch on wind chimes and pianissimo mallet-tappings on a cymbal.

There was a pleasant informality about the proceedings, with an anticipatory buzz of conversation before the concert got under way. As well, there were Musica Viva tickets and fine wine as raffle prizes and musicians taking turns to say a few words about the works on offer. And the Llama Bar’s pleasant ambience was enhanced by a good deal of mirror space and many lit candles in little glasses.

This was far and away the most successful of Musica Viva’s Menage concert series, purpose-presented to tempt young adults to sample the delights of chamber music. It’s an experiment that’s working well.

Neville Cohn Copyright 2004