To finish up their July 2018 program, Flinders Quartet and guest violist Chris Moore performed a lively concert mixing music and theatre. It’s a charming play with text to add narration to the Quartet’s performance and movement in time with the music. The three pieces comprising this concert were distinct but carried a thread of life and joy throughout.
The opening piece combined Michael Leunig’s The Curly Pajama Letters, narrated by Chris Moore with Calvin Bowman’s score. Vasco Pajama and Mr Curly write gentle letters to each other detailing the minute changes of life and the seasons. The music is light and airy, filling the space around Moore’s booming narration. It’s silly, child-like, and genuine in joy and freedom. Particularly joyful was guest violinist Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba’s playing of swinging spring. This piece was somewhat quiet and more reflective as time and seasons pass but it maintained a delicate comfort that kept rumination at bay.
Moore continued his narration into the second piece, titled Puck’s Dream (after Midsummer), an interweaving of Mendelssohn’s original score with Iain Grandage’s own atop a text devised from Shakespeare’s beloved character. It’s a ducking and diving piece that runs the listener across a landscape of mischief and mayhem. Puck (Moore) sneaks around the other performers like the mythical creature he is, imagining all sorts of mishaps and meddlesome activities he could commit on his unsuspecting peers. The lighting in this piece by Clare Springett is unusual for a strings concert with flashes and pink washes to illuminate Puck’s imagination. There is a multilevelled creativity to this piece that demonstrates a playfulness and interest in the possibilities of classical music to make connections and breathe a different life into classic texts.
After interval things became more conventional but no less engaging. Watching the quintet perform Johannes Brahms’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 was enigmatic. The way they move and sway is lively and brings another dynamic to the drama of their music. The violinists, Pavlovic-Hobba and Nicholas Waters, are particularly energetic in their playing and it’s exciting to watch. Brahms’s score is full and enticing from the hollow echo of the cello to the near-whistle of the highest violin notes. It is so satisfying to watch and listen to excellent musicians play music of life and love and movement.
The direction of Richard Piper pulls this concert together as a collection of the range available to classical works and classical performance. This was a concert about enjoyment of words and music that would have anyone bobbing along, smile twisting the lip.