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Program Reviews by Valerie

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Peninsula Music Club



The notes tell me that the Ensemble Aspherical is a “new and exciting chamber group formed by four leading Sydney classical musicians who enjoy performing elegant and engaging music.”  Featuring the well-known sisters Marina and Justine Marsden on violin and viola, harpist Louise Johnson and flautist, Janet Web I can’t wait to hear what excitement these brilliant musicians will bring to us.


Almost a full house once again on a warm and muggy spring evening – or is it summer already? I see a graceful concert harp on the wooden floor and am delighted to expect an intimacy which would be missing were the four musicians  on stage. They will be on the same level as the audience, almost within the audience, though I suspect those seated towards the rear of this large hall will be unable to see them. However, it’s the music that matters most and the varied programme promises serenades and interesting snatches from Vivaldi, Ravel, Ibert, Mahler, Reger, Debussy and Piazzolla.


The musicians are dressed in a melange of muted shades of green, mustard and black. Blonde Louise Johnson the elegant harpist in flowing robes of black and green  matched by the outfits worn by the two sisters and flautist Janet Webb.


The evening is introduced with a spirited performance of Vivaldi’s Concerto in F Major, a jaunty happy piece with the warmth of the harp providing the lower notes, the lovely tones of Janet Webb’s  hovering busy flute followed by Marina and Justine on violin and viola, their instruments played with lighter bows make for easier playing we are advised beforehand.


Ravel’s short and familiar Piece en forme de Habanera for violin and harp with its Basque influence takes over. The harp and violin speak well together though the piece was originally written for bass voice and piano then transposed for various instruments by the composer.


Ibert next with Deux Interludes for flute, violin and harp, music banned by pro-Nazis during the war in Paris.  I find it rather sad, tinged with longing, but the harp intervenes and accelerates into a fast pace and the mood changes. I always  enjoy this charming instrument so brilliantly played by Louise Johnson, her long fingers dancing over the strings.


.After the interval and announcements Louise Johnson gives us a heartfelt and sensitive version of the touching Last Rose of Summer taken from a poem by Thomas Moore the Irish poet which, assisted by others, was set to music. Further enthusiastic  applause.


Vivace from Serenade in G for flute, violin and viola by Max Reger. A fun piece  rhythmic, playful and makes me think of a carousel at a fairground interspersed with thoughtful moments. 


Sonata for flute, viola and harp. This lengthy Debussy charmer is considered to be “the most Debussian of his three late sonatas” involving “flute acrobatics” and a melange of varying tempos and moods. Fine playing by the trio.


The final Piazzolla offering Libertango for flute, violin, viola and harp is a foot-tapping hip-swaying frolic that rounds off the evening perfectly.


Sparkling wine and delicious sandwiches provided by the committee and helpers are handed around as members of the audience join the musicians who answer questions and describe the many attributes of their various instruments. Jokes fly between Louise and Janet as to the value of their gold instruments giving rise to a good deal of mirth.


It has been a rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable evening for all, and no doubt tonight’s audience will be looking forward to this 2018’s first concert on Friday 6th April at 8pm. The venue for all the Peninsula Music Club concerts is the Hall at t Luke’s Grammar School on the Bayview Campus. ***

Valerie copyright November 2017 Sydney


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