It has been a while since your correspondent reviewed a forthcoming season from Musica Viva. The program announced yesterday, the first full program developed by artistic director Paul Kildea certainly warrants attention. Previously Musica Viva referred to their mainstage touring program as “international”. Happily, this designation has disappeared, as has the old- fashioned cultural cringe where audiences were mesmerised solely by ensembles’ lack of Australian connection. Kildea, in his comments about how the 2022 program came together, was clear in pointing out that the only sensible approach in program development involves the incredible talent we have in Australia, be it musicians or composers (and indeed visual artists), and that we should recognise the value of interactions amongst them and their international peers.
The season is introduced in a charming and sometimes slightly irreverent video which encapsulates the delightful style of the whole 2022 opus. If this is a foretaste of Musica Viva concerts in the future under Artistic Director Paul Kildea then we are in for a stimulating, varied and enjoyable ride.
It will be fascinating to see the reactions of the more traditional MVA audience member to what is an amazing mix not only of Australia’s best but also some international high-fliers, both well known here and unknown. How’s this for a challenge: a violin concerto from Kurt Weil, arranged for violin (Kristian Winther) and saxophone quartet (Signum Saxophone Quartet); the incredible (some may suggest mad) cellist/composer Giovanni Sollima paired with mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital, and variations on the Goldberg variations played by iconic Australian Paul Grabowski. Pianist Andrea Lam’s pairing to deliver the Goldberg Variations as a sort of theme for Grabowski’s later improvisations could well be a pianistic tour de force. Even the great works to appear, such as Die Winterreise have been given a unique angle. Schubert’s immortal song cycle to twenty four poems of Wilhelm Mueller will be enhanced with video images from Australia’s master of the landscape, Fred Williams, to recognise its timeless relevance also to a wide brown land. We can anticipate an exploration of the human soul, enhanced by the masterful interpretations of the soul of country.
And yes, of course, female composers feature, both living and dead.
There is, naturally, a program featuring string quartet. This is Musica Viva, after all. Flinders Quartet and guitarist Karin Schaupp reunite for a program by composers only two of which will be familiar to most. No Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn or Schubert. Rather, a new work for the five musicians from Carl Vine and a salute to one popular composer, Boccherini, who gets a look in with only two movements of one of his popular guitar quintets, recorded in full some years ago by Flinders and Schaupp for those who may wish to enjoy a taste of the whole and anticipate the guitar virtuosity along with cellist Zoe Knighton’s skills with the castanets. There is a piano trio program too, perhaps the most conventional in terms of repertoire. The audience will enjoy either Dvorak or Brahms alongside a new commission from young Australian Matt Laing and a trio from Arno Babajanian. This latter your correspondent recalls hearing here in recent years but cannot quite put a time or place to it. The Z.E.N. Trio who will perform is perhaps the newest example of Musica Viva’s particular skill of picking up a young and upcoming ensemble at an early stage of what will be become an illustrious international career.
For the lovers of the Baroque, Van Diemen’s Band will present a program called borderlands. Is it the lot of Tasmanians to be sometimes overlooked? Not in this case. It is clear that Julia Friedersdorf, Van Diemen’s Artistic Director, has a meeting of minds with Kildea. While reflecting the amorphous borders of the Baroque era, there is no doubt some irony here as we reflect on our own, currently rigid, borders.
The whole is more like a year-long festival than a standardised chamber music season. Would that some of the major music presenters had as much courage. That the 2022 season is a significant change from the past is unquestioned. It is a credit to Paul Kildea and his team, along with their confidence that Musica Viva’s audiences will embrace the vision, and warm to the liaisons that the season will undoubtedly inspire down the track both domestically and internationally.
Check it all out at https://musicaviva.net.au