Thursday, May 26, 2016


'The Large Blue Horses' by Franz Marc

The Flowers Of War concert
National Gallery of Australia, Tuesday May 17th

Review by Len Power

The Flowers of War is a three year project to uncover, perform, discuss and celebrate the music and art that talented men used to cope with the horror of the First World War and to mark their experiences.  ‘The Man Who Painted Blue Horses: Verdun and the WW1 sketch book of Franz Marc’ was a concert with projections based on the WW1 sketches of the great German artist, Franz Marc, who founded the Blue Rider School and died at Verdun in 1916.  Music by Maurice Ravel, Richard Strauss and forgotten and lost composers of the First World War, some who died at Verdun, was featured.

The concert was a particular triumph for Canberra soprano, Louise Page, who sang a large number of songs with great feeling and technical assurance, culminating in a thrilling ‘Transfiguration’ from ‘Tod und Verklärung’ by Richard Strauss in an arrangement by Christopher Latham.

Louise Page was accompanied on piano in the first half of the program by pianist, Tamara-Anna Cislowska.  The Sculthorpe Quartet then joined singer and pianist for the remainder of the program.  The playing and singing of these major artists was simply sublime and a joy to listen to.

The art of Franz Marc, which was projected during the concert, was fascinating and colourful and the choice of additional art by Marc’s Blue Rider colleagues and friends, Kandinsky, Delaunay and Klee, was inspired.

The program included English translations of the songs performed and it would have been helpful to be able to follow these while Louise Page was singing.  Unfortunately the auditorium lights were switched off due, no doubt, to the requirements of the art projections.  Louise Page performed in silhouette with the projections behind her and it would have been preferable to be able to see her face during the performance.

This memorable concert will be followed by several concerts over the next three years as part of the Flowers Of War project.

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition Wednesday 18th May.  Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am Saturdays.