Saturday, September 25, 2010


Best ASO concert I’ve seen in a good while.  The two Gershwin pieces were of course brilliant, Bernstein and Dvorak most enjoyable, Milhaud not so, but the real surprise packet was the Adams piece, The Chairman Dances, which was outstanding.

One question from Rhapsody in Blue – is it possible for a pianist to do too much improv?  Perhaps not with this piece – one of the ways Gershwin was able to complete this piece in just 3 weeks was by not writing any of the piano solo pieces, and just improvising them on opening night (nodding at the conductor when he’d had enough) then writing them down afterwards.  Fair game then, and a terrific job Michael Kieran Harvey did with it.

The pre-match address by one of the flautists (?) added a great deal to the understanding not only of the individual pieces but also the way they went together under the banner of American jazz-influenced classical music, including the Dvorak.

Here’s the complete program:

Master Series 11 - Rhapsody in Blue

Friday 24 September, 8pm

Saturday 25 September, 6:30pm

Adelaide Town Hall

Kristjan Jarvi: Conductor

Michael Kieran Harvey: Piano

Milhaud: The Creation of the World

Adams: The Chairman Dances

Bernstein/Foss: Prelude, Fugue and Riffs

Dvorak: Carnival Overture

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Gershwin: An American in Paris

No introductory flourish sends a frisson down an audience’s collective spine like the clarinet glissando of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, symbolising the spirit of jazz age America so potently. It’s the musical equivalent of the Empire State Building. With Michael Kieran Harvey at the keyboard, the thrills just keep coming. In a roller coaster ride, the ASO and über cool podium dynamo, Kristjan Järvi, swing through a program symbolising some of the most spectacularly successful fusions of jazz and more ‘traditional’ idioms. With inspiration as diverse as the foxtrot, in John Adams The Chairman Dances, to the Frenchman Darius Milhaud’s sophisticated primitivism in the surrealist ballet The Creation of the World, this concert delivers thrills aplenty.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Elder Hall – a reprieve


Friday 24/9 – was to be the 4th concert of the week, this time down at Elder Hall where they were going to be playing a (the?) Beethoven cello concerto.  Before tooling down there I checked the web and lo and behold Beethoven has disappeared and a visiting NZ music professor is doing his thing on the organ.  Perhaps not.  As I’m off next week (late season snow trip to Hotham/Falls) there’s a fair bit to do, so here’s a bonus hour to do it in.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recitals Australia–Scarlatti

Wednesday 22/9 – concert no. 3 for the week – recital really – as Joshua Mollart puts Scarlatti though his paces at the Pilgrim Church.  A good crowd relative to the usual Wednesday lunchtime turnout, lots of Barossa Valley high students (where I think Mollart does some teaching).  Very short program – 35 minutes or so, which suits me down to the ground really, given my current workload.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ASO Season 2011


Tuesday 21/9 – concert 2 for the week.  Not really a concert as it turned out – more a lecture (with cheese and wine thrown in), as the ASO’s 2011 season is introduced by one of the cognoscenti.  The orchestra – most of them – were in place and did play a bit, but as this was the third time they’d heard the talk that day they were looking a bit jaded.

A few observation will follow later.  Suffice it to say that the Masters series is looking a shade more highbrow than usual.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NSO plays Beethoven PC 6

Jonathan Heng.  There’s a name to remember.  This guy was press-ganged into performing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 6 when the woman who was to do it decided she’d had enough of live performances.  Not sure how much warning he had, but he certainly had the piece down pat.  If that wasn’t enough his encore was Listz’s “La Campanella”, which seemed insanely difficuly.  As her indoors mentioned to me, if we had a bet to simply hit as many piano keys as possible in five minutes – any keys – it’s unlikely we’d hit as many as this guy.

Terrific stuff – a snip at $15!

And while we’re on the subject of Beethoven, how about those Beethoven digital clock sunnies….very cool.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

5 concerts in 7 days

Here's the plan:

Sunday 19/9 – the Norwood Symphony Orchestra plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 6, amongst other things

Tuesday 21/9 – the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra launches their 2011 season

Wednesday 22/9 – Recitals Australia regular Wednesday session at the Pilgrim Church

Friday 24/9 – Elder Hall

Saturday 25/9 – ASO plays Gershwin