Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Artistic extremes and melodic beauty as Bukovsky and de Haan captivate

The Beauty of Living Sound 
Simone de Haan and Miroslav Bukovsky
ANU Drill Hall Gallery,  August 4. 

Reviewed by Tony Magee

Gallery director Terence Maloon with Larry and Magda Sitsky fronting
"In Flight" by Ildiko Kovacs, 2015. Collection NGA. Photo: Tony Magee
The mysterious and secretive sounds and utterances of the creatures of the night in the Outback are not something I’m particularly familiar with. Unlike some other members of my family, this boy generally prefers the comforts of home.

But trumpet and flugel horn player Miroslav Bukovsky and trombonist Simone de Haan transported me there and to a whole range of other places in a fascinating and diverse concert of music making that took the art-form to extremes at times and at other times washed and cleansed the audience with magnificent melody and harmony.

Beginning with muted trumpet and muted trombone, the first of six pieces contained delicate trumpet phrasing in abstract melodic form, accompanied by drone sounds almost of a didgeridoo nature from the trombone.

The two artists instantly became enraptured within their own personal space of creativity, but at the same time listening intently to what the other was creating in order to inspire each other and follow a path of unknown destination and unknown territory. Such was the point and the brilliance of everything they played.

I listened and closed my eyes and then suddenly there is was right in front of me. A thylacine. Long thought to be extinct on the mainland and possibly also in Tasmania since the 1930s, it appeared in the middle of the Drill Hall Gallery. I don’t know if it was male or female, but for the duration of this piece and most of the others that followed, it remained there, circling around and curiously snorting, sniffing, grunting and breathing.

Miroslav Bukovsky and Simone de Haan in front of "Gemini"
by Ildiko Kovacs, 2017. Photo: Tony Magee and Alexei Salpeter
Other pieces in the program were more conversational, the fourth piece in particular starting with a comedic dialogue using just the mouth pieces. Perhaps it was two people who speak different languages, but they found a common ground of expressive understanding and morphed into what for me was the highlight of the event - a mournful, soaring and beauteous rendition of “Body and Soul”.

I misted up as I recalled it was the last song ever performed in public by the late jazz and cabaret diva Gery Scott. That was 9th October 2005 at Hyatt Hotel Canberra.

Throughout the concert, the musicians used the superb backdrop of visual art from the current exhibition “The DNA of Colour” by Ildiko Kovacs as part of their inspiration for their glorious improvised melodies, as well as the guttural, primal, evocative and haunting sounds of colour and depth they managed to produce from their instruments.

This concert was not just about sitting and listening to music. The audience was transported, transfixed, inspired and swept through such a labyrinth of emotions - dramatic, sensual, mystical, primal, rhythmic and melodic. It was one of the most fascinating, unusual and satisfying artistic events I’ve attended for years, presented by two world class musicians.

First published in a slightly edited format in City News Digital Edition, August 4 2019 and complete on Art Music Theatre blog, August 4 2019