Australian Chamber Orchestra – The Visionaries

Suite in C, BWV1066
St Matthew Passion – Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder; Mache dich, mein Herze, rein
Xerxes – Ombra mai fu
Messiah – The Trumpet shall Sound
Alexander’s Feast – Revenge, Timotheus Cried
Concerto grosso in D, Op.6/5
Cantata 28 (Ich habe genug)

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (baritone)

Emma-Jane Murphy (cello)

Paul Goodchild (trumpet)

Tania Frazer (oboe)

Australian Chamber Orchestra
Richard Tognetti (violin)

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: 10 August, 2006
Venue: Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia

This latest tour by the Australian Chamber Orchestra not only saw the strings augmented by two oboes, bassoon and harpsichord but graced by the talents of two spectacular soloists in the form of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s principal trumpet Paul Goodchild and New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

The concert began with Richard Tognetti’s announcing a change of programme: in place of a cantata movement by Johann Kuhnau would stand an extra vocal item each from Bach and Handel. In the case of the Handel this proved to be a boon: an extra helping of Goodchild’s superb trumpet playing.

The first music was a stylish account of Bach’s C major Orchestral Suite. Here, despite superb playing, the phrasing came perilously close to sounding mannered. Yet the trio sections from the two oboes and bassoon were utterly delightful, perfectly complementing the incisive strings and imaginative realisations of the bass figures.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes’s first contribution was a bracket of songs from Handel and Bach. Rhodes delivered both ‘Ombra mai fu’ and ‘Mache dich’ with a solid, steady tone of great beauty though little in the way of tonal variation; ‘Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder’, ‘The Trumpet shall Sound’ and ‘Revenge, Timotheus Cried’ he despatched with alacrity, the latter two works having the added benefit of Goodchild’s presence.

The second half of the concert began with the odd work out, Hindemith’s Trauermusik, originally written for viola and strings (in only six hours!) in response to the news of George V’s death (at the time, Hindemith was originally to have performed one of his viola concertos in London for the BBC, but this work was deemed unsuitable for the now prevailing sombre mood). In this concert principal cello Emma-Jane Murphy performed the solo part; however, she seemed ill at ease for some reason, and the resulting performance was not what it could have been.

Before the final work, Bach’s magnificent cantata ‘Ich habe Genug, came a near-faultless performance of Handel’s Concerto Grosso in D major from the Opus 6 set, and although one missed the colour normally provided by optional wind parts (a lone bassoon being the only admission on this occasion), any deficit in that department was amply made up for by Tania Frazer’s gorgeous oboe in the cantata. Her playing was easily the equal of Rhodes’s now carefully modulated and expressive singing, and both artists effortlessly sailed together amid the ACO’s finely nuanced accompaniment before finally bringing the audience ashore and the concert to an end.

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