Sunday, September 29, 2019


Canberra Sinfonia
Violin/Leader: Harry Ward
Sonnet Reader: Charles Hudson
Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest 28 September

Reviewed by Len Power
One of the most recognizable classical music works, ‘The Four Seasons’ by Antonio Vivaldi, was written around 1716–1717 and published in 1725.  The work consists of four violin concerti, each of which musically illustrates a season of the year.

At the time of writing, they were considered to be revolutionary – music with a narrative element or program music.  Vivaldi’s music evokes landscapes, elements of changing weather, birds and animals as well as human behaviour and responses.  Unusually, the concerti were published with accompanying sonnets that may have been written by the composer himself.  These poems describe the spirit of each season that his music was intended to invoke.

Canberra Sinfonia’s decision to include a recitation by Charles Hudson of the relevant sonnets before each section of music added another dimension to the musical experience.

Harry Ward

The Sinfonia was led by violinist, Harry Ward, who has performed as soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician throughout Australia and internationally.  He is currently training in Melbourne with Dr Robin Wilson at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Canberra Sinfonia

The performance of the work by the Canberra Sinfonia was dynamic and passionate from beginning to end.  Harry Ward’s solo passages were played with great feeling and accuracy.  There were so many highlights during the performance.  Amongst these, the second movement of ‘Spring’, evoking a sleeping goatherd and his dog, the dramatic third movement’s storm in ‘Summer’, Ariana Odermatt’s sensitive harpsichord playing in the ‘Autumn’ concerto and the atmospheric opening of ‘Winter’ and its rousing finale were especially memorable.

The major melodies in the concerti are well-known almost to the point of cliché.  We’ve heard them playing in shopping malls, in TV commercials and as underscoring in documentaries.  However, to hear the concerti played live in concert and to really listen to them in depth is an enlightening experience.  It was an opportunity not to be missed.

Photos by Peter Hislop

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.