Canberra International Music Festival
Fitters’ Workshop 7 May
Reviewed by Len Power
The waltz of 18th century Vienna and the “nuevo tango” of Argentina seem at first glance to be worlds apart. The waltz was popular in Europe but social unrest in the 19th century resulted in emigration to the Americas. With a melting pot of musical influences, imported and local, new musical genres arose.
By the end of the 19th century, the tango was gaining in popularity in Argentina. In the early 20th century, Astor Piazzolla, who earned his living playing in tango clubs, introduced classical and jazz elements, creating a new repertoire known as “nuevo tango”.
This concert, “Waltz to Tango”, celebrated Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” 100th Birthday with waltzes by Franz Schubert, a new dreamlike work by Andrew Schultz, “She Dances By The River”, Elena Kats-Chernin’s “ The Three Dancers” and three works by Astor Piazzolla.
Performed by Veronique Serret, violin; James Wannan, viola; Blair Harris, cello; Rohan Dasika, double bass; Adam Jeffrey, percussion; James Nightingale, saxophone; James Crabb, accordion; Sonya Lifschitz, piano and Ronan Apcar, piano, the concert commenced with six waltzes composed by Schubert in the years following the 1815 Vienna congress that reorganized Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Pianist, Ronan Apcar, played them with grace and sensitivity.
The new work by Andrew Schultz, “She Dances By The River”, followed. This brooding, dream-like piano quartet celebrated people with courage to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Finishing with a sense of optimism and renewed determination, it was played with great skill and warmth.
Elena Kats-Chernin’s “The Three Dancers” is a work inspired by Picasso’s painting of the same name which depicts a triangle of characters drawn together through love, sex and death. This was given a highly spirited performance that was a delight from start to finish.
The concert finished with three works by Piazzolla. “Let’s Go To The Devil” was played with infectious glee by the performers. It was followed by the dream-like “Oblivion” and “Death Of the Angel” was a rousing finale to the concert, full of pulsing rhythms, passion and colour. It was obvious that the performers enjoyed playing it together.
This was a hugely enjoyable concert with well-chosen works and skilful playing by all involved.
Photos by Peter Hislop
This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of the 8 May 2021.
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.