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Lucinda Moon shines in an all-Bach solo recital for the PSMF
This concert of two of JS Bach's unaccompanied violin sonatas provided a Sunday morning devotional for a packed audience at St John the Evangelist in Flinders.
Lucinda Moon is a highly regarded baroque violinist who led the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra for nearly fifteen years. She is now in great demand from many of Australia's leading baroque ensembles as was evident from her leading role the previous evening as the concert-master for the newly formed 'Genesis Baroque'.
Here she was performing by herself. The Bach sonatas are pared down to the minimum and feature the cerebral and sparse tones of the solo violin working through a thoughtful and thought provoking meditation. Nothing is wasted, nothing is superfluous, only the essence of the music itself. This demands concentration not just from the performer, but from the congregation, each of whom had to draw on inner reserves to remain in the moment, focussed on the intensity of the music and the playing.
The first sonata, No. 2 in A minor, is the more abstract of the two, written originally for performance in church ('di Chiesa' as Lucinda put it) with movements defined by standard musical terms such as 'Grave', 'Andante' and 'Allegro'. The virtuosic line of the sonata explores the outer bounds of human thought. Its abstract, geometrical quality was exemplified by the 'Fugue', compared by Moon to the dome in architecture which "contains the greatest volume, enclosed by the least material and the utmost science".
The second sonata, the Partita No 2 in D Minor, is better known and based around traditional dance rhythms and forms, such as the Allemande and Gigue, but taken to a higher level in Bach's masterful hands. Here we have direct access to Bach's musical imagination as he draws us on, lifting and falling back, repeating and expanding on earlier passages, exploring musical thoughts and phrases as if thinking aloud. This was most evident in the extraordinary Chaconne which finished the concert. Here, a standard statement is presented at the opening as a baseline, only to be explored again and again as an improvisation on that theme in a kaleidoscope of alternative musical universes. It demanded the utmost skill from Lucinda Moon, and a close concentration from the audience to follow along the elaborate cascading pathway of notes woven by Bach.