Australian Chamber Orchestra – Vivacious

The Art of Fugue, BWV1080 – Contrapunktus I; Contrapunktus VII; Canon XIV; Contrapunktus V
Signs, Games and Messages – Like a Folksong; A Memory from Balatonboglár in 5/8; Plaintive Song; A Flower for Tabea; Hommage à JSB; Hommage à Ránki György; Perpetua Mobile; Signs VI; Very Slow Waltz for Walter Levin
Three Movements from Lyric Suite – Andante amoroso; Allegro misterioso; Adagio appassionato
Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Op.8 – Le quattro stagioni [The Four Seasons]

Australian Chamber Orchestra
Alina Ibragimova (violin)

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: 3 September, 2008
Venue: Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia

Alina Ibragimova. Photograph: Sussie AhlburgThis was the penultimate concert in the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s latest national tour, and showcased the talents of young Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova (born in 1985), both as a soloist and as a director. Playing a 1738 Guarneri, Ibragimova led the ACO through a somewhat austere programme in which bursts of thrilling virtuosity flashed out like primary colours filling the spaces in some abstract and highly complex line-drawing.

The first half of the concert began with the interweaving of a selection of György Kurtág’s concentrated, ever-contingent miniatures from Signs, Games and Messages with four ‘movements’ from J. S. Bach’s monumental study in counterpoint, The Art of Fugue. The contrasting of these two disparate musics – one pared back yet ever subject to change, the other organic and expansive yet frozen forever in time – provided a bracing counterpoint of its own, with a panoply of varying textures (solo, duet, trio, quartet and full ensemble), modes and techniques sharply delineated by the 11 string players.

The three movements from Berg’s Lyric Suite seemed positively lush after this, though even here Ibragimova brought a quality of restrained passion to the corporate sound . The central ‘Allegro misterioso’, with its multitude of effects, was especially effective.

After the interval came an extraordinary performance of Vivaldi’s ever-popular The Four Seasons. I say extraordinary, because not only was Ibragimova’s solo playing both explosive and elegant in equal measure (her dynamic control and shaping of phrases were particularly ear-opening); the overall approach, with a focus on the pure, abstract qualities of sound to the exclusion of the programmatic elements of the music invited a clear kinship with everything that had been played in the first half. Thus did Ibragimova and the ACO achieve the near-impossible: a completely fresh reading of a popular classic.

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