Led by Richard Tognetti, this was a magnificent concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra filmed at City Recital Hall, the first of their online Studiocasts.

The concert opened frenetically with explosively emphatic strings in Schubert ‘s ( arr.Tognetti ) ‘Quartettsatz in C Minor D 703’. While only one of four planned movements, it is striking and organically formed to stand alone. There were strong, pulsating melodies and a fiery dialogue between the two sections of the Orchestra. The music ebbs and flows, swoops and dives, swirls and rapidly cascades. The same busy chords that open the movement wildly come full circle to close it. The restatement of those chords also sees the return of the emotionally eloquent second theme which is presented in a different tone to how we first hear it. The third theme is the same piece but now in C major, and the work combines to bring the movement to its conclusion.

Vaughn Williams (arr Johnson)’The Lark Ascending’ was next – a breathtaking, dazzling showpiece for Tognetti, achingly exquisite, yearning, soaring and lyrically rippling. The work contains some of the folk melodies Vaughn Williams collected and attempts to capture the idea not only of a bird but the British landscape. It seeks to express the idea of a bird on the wing,  climbing ever higher and full of entrancing fragile beauty and purity in its song.

Beethoven’s (arr Tognetti ) ‘String Quartet in B flat major , op130 v. Cavatina’ followed,  with its sense of a boiling undercurrent of volcanic passion. It was given an impassioned performance, strong and powerful, full of swirling Romantic Sturm und Drang. It is deceptively simple in construction yet memorable and we heard an extremely eloquent version that created an ebb and flow of crashing sound.

The fourth and final work was Beethoven’s (arr Tognetti) ‘Grosse Fugue Op 133’ with its fiery , explosive opening in a very energetic performance. There was a sharp, spiky, animated discussion between the various sections of the Orchestra, darting and scurrying with dramatic flurries. This was contrasted with a quieter, more reflective segment than a return to pulsating, agitated, tumbling section that becomes tumultuous.

Violins skitter breathlessly, the cello agreeing as the second melody is enfolded in the first. The music then plunges and cascades with a sudden change to a quieter, more reflective section. There is a great sense of yearning, with the use of pizzicato in the strings at one point, before the turbulent conclusion.

A most dramatic concert full of beauty and drama .

Running time just under an hour

The Program:

Schubert ( arr.Tognetti ) Quartettsatz in C Minor D 703
Vaughn Williams ( arr Johnson ) The Lark Ascending
Beethoven (arr Tognetti ) String Quartet in B flat major , op130 v. Cavatina
Beethoven (arr Tognetti) Grosse Fugue Op 133