Italian Baroque with approx. | Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

sa few years ago I attended a performance of Schubert’s “Die Winterreise”, sung by Matthias Goerne, with winter images by Willian Kentridge in the background. Despite the vibrancy, appropriateness and deep connection between image and music in Kentridge’s design, I finally felt that Schubert’s music, which works on the inner essence of the emotions, was not enhanced by the background, which instead worked on me as a distraction. Like Bruckner attending Die Walküre, I didn’t want to open my eyes.

So it was with some trepidation that I entered the City Recital Hall to witness the collaboration between two highly specialized and highly talented Australian ensembles, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the Brisbane-born circus troupe, approximately, last night. I asked myself, what will Circa contribute to improve my reception of Italian Baroque music? Circa took the stage, dressed in slightly caricatured Italian clothes, and performed some of their remarkable repertoire of solo swings, tissu and trapeze, three-high and impossible balancing acts to the background of brilliantly performed but essentially unobtrusive Neapolitan Baroque music. (I’ve heard enough Baroque chaconnes and pasamezzo basses to last my next lifetime.) There were two tarantulas and a Saint Vitus dance in the first set of pieces, and the manic speed of that music complemented the virtuosity nicely. by Circa’s acrobatics.

But it was when Renato Dolcinic, with his beautiful baritone sang Porpora’s ‘Ombre oscure’, that I began to be drawn into the different ways in which these two disparate performing ensembles linked themselves. I found myself admiring the beauty of the trapeze act rather than its virtuosity, approximately have slowed down the hair-raising pace of their acts for this aria. sweets was dressed in white, with a little black, an inverse of the approximately acrobat theater black with a touch of white, and he moved casually among the acrobats as if on an Italian evening passeggiata. This particular act showed a natural integration of the discourses of Baroque music and contemporary acrobatics, and I began to realize that the whole evening was not, like “Winterreise”, a musical performance with acrobatics as an afterthought, but an acrobatic display with a musical background. which is far superior to standard circus shows. Perhaps it should have been billed not as Italian Baroque in Circa, but Circa in Italian Baroque. In this way it became wonderful to hear music from 17th and 18th century Italy, so beautifully played on period instruments, behind the fantastically creative circus acts of approximately. And I was able to accept what initially irritated me, the clapping during the music at the end of particularly spectacular feats of acrobatics. This at least reflected a practice in the Baroque era where audiences did the same at the end of vocal bravado in operas, and indeed what routinely happens in contemporary jazz performances after a solo break). So it was no surprise to hear Dolcinis performance of a particularly insanely virtuoso piece, “Sparga il sense” by Caldera, as a backdrop to an insane bravado hula hoop act by one of the women in Circa.

However, there were two moments when Circa withdrew from the stage and the music was everything. One was a Concerto Grosso where two solo violinists dominated the textures with their own acrobatics; but the most touching thing was Dolcinis intimate rendering of the sublime aria from Vivaldi’s farnace (whose performance by Pinchgut Opera I heard a few years ago), “Gelido di ogni vena”. It was a great moment of silence among the bravado.

Other memorable moments were trading the blocks during Dolcini’s singing of Landi’s Passacaglia of life while reading the newspaper, and the extraordinarily beautiful blue cloth in which a woman stood up and appeared to be dressed in an enormous 18th-century ball gown. any member of approximately has his or her own specialty, and one of them is a clown. He combined the amazing body control shown by each member of . was shown approximately with a really funny comedic flair, but I was a little uncomfortable with what he chose to parody. He intentionally fell over performing acrobatic feats that anyone in the company (including him) could do perfectly if they wanted to, and it was like being shown backstage in a rehearsal. I didn’t need to recall that what the acrobats were doing was extraordinary. And as part of the endeavor to connect music with acrobatics, he also parodied conducting, confirming the opinion of perhaps some in the audience who thought musicians didn’t need a conductor. This connection was recorded by the actual conductor, Paul Dyerwhose sometimes exaggerated gestures looked strangely like the clown’s, and who entered the Italian mood of the evening by acting like a combination of Liberace and an Italian waiter.

All nice. But much more than fun, Italian Baroque with Circa is an inventive attempt at telling the inexplicable, by two Australian ensembles at the peak of their abilities. Far from a distraction, as Kentridge’s Images for “Winterreise”, approximately became the center of a fascinating, magical evening.

Event details

Sydney Festival 2022
Italian Baroque with Circa

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Event location: City concert hall | Sydney NSW
dates: January 19 – 27, 2022

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