Carl Vine on I Fagiolini’s Newcastle Concert
A brilliant first performance from I Fagiolini on Saturday night in Newcastle. The group was excited and buoyant after a concert that most of them considered ‘the most taxing we’ve ever mounted’, to an enthusiastic audience who demanded at least one encore.
The program was beautifully structured and thoroughly engrossing from start to finish. Most spectacular were the works featuring all eight voices: The Victoria motet at the opening, Poulenc’s Sept chansons opening the second half, and the two contemporary works. Janequin’s wonderful La Chasse, for 7 voices, was delivered with all the spontaneity, energy, wit and wickedness that the composer originally intended almost 500 years ago. These were contrasted nicely with the smaller works, including three of Monteverdi’s most splendid madrigals, and Croce’s hilarious ‘Game of the Goose’ (a mere gosling at 420 years old).
Andrew Schultz’s new commissioned work, Le Molière imaginaire captured the internal nature of the ensemble: urbane, virtuosic, cultured, witty and naughty in equal measure, offering the only time in Musica Viva’s 70-year history that a performance has concluded with the words: ‘burning piss’.
The singing was exceptionally fine: eight highly contrasted characters blending into a single united voice. Robert Hollingworth’s cleverly scattered spoken introductions were each immensely charming, amusing, erudite and informative, offering rare personal glimpses into the composers, performance practice and the life of the ensemble. This is a grand concert experience that is bound to delight the rest of Australia as much as it did Newcastle.
Carl Vine AO
I Fagiolini tour Australia 25 July – 8 August. For more information on I Fagiolini, and to book your tickets, please visit: www.musicaviva.com.au/IFagiolini