Australian Brandenburg Orchestra City Recital Hall, October 22 ★★★
It was a wildly ambitious idea; quixotic, even. To celebrate 25 years of joyous music making, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra would traverse the known universe of the 18th century, from Paris to Germany, to Spain, Italy, the Hellenic and Ottoman empires, in music. They would call in at the Sistine Chapel, dance in Spain, watch the butchers stomp in Constantinople and then witness a sema, the ritualised meditation of Sufi dervishes from the Mevlevi order of Konya.
Choosing from the huge palette of sounds and cultures and shoe-horning them into a fast-moving two-hour concert was always going to be a curatorial challenge.
As a seasoned showman, Paul Dyer’s choices were full of colour and movement, and performed to the highest of standards. The opening number, for example, Lully’s Marche pour la ceremonie des Turcs from Le bourgeois gentilhomme, was an exquisite display of French baroque, refined to the nth degree: immaculate articulation, crackling with energy. Likewise, a Fandango for Guitar and Strings by Boccherini, bristled with attitude (although, sadly, not with the sound of the guitar, which was lost in the mix).
The Australian guest performers – Yioda Wilson, on castanets and cuban heels, and a brilliant troupe of musicians and dancers in the Greek tradition – provided an entertaining side trip into pseudo-baroque exotica. However, the real destination was the divine.
In a magical performance by members of the Australian Brandenburg Choir, Allegri’s Miserere, a ritual chant which morphed into a must-see tourist attraction for 18th century Grand Tourists, filled the secular space of City Recital Hall with heavenly voices. And to complete the journey, five master musicians and five semazen from Turkey transformed the stage into a place of whirling, wailing mystery as these extraordinary artists reached out to God.
Leaving the hall in silence, as requested, I was left reflecting on the delicate thread connecting entertainment with ritual, performance with prayer, and feeling privileged to have witnessed two unique acts of worship.
This concert is repeated on October 24, 25, 29 and 31 at 7pm and October 25 at 2pm.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/australian-brandenburg-orchestra-ottoman-baroque-review-whirl-of-glorious-ritual-spellbinds-audience-20141023-11aeue.html#ixzz3GvonX3V7