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Sweeter than Roses a fitting entree to Peninsula Festival
Ben Opie, the new artistic director, introduced Los Angeles-based soprano Janet Todd and Melbourne-based lutenist Nicholas Pollock as 'outstanding artists from two opposite sides of the world'. And this is what festivals, in particular, the PSMF, are all about. Originally conceived in 2008 by Julia Fredersdorff as a way to gather together Australian-born international performers visiting family and friends back home during the northern winter, it has blossomed into a celebration of world-class performance in a distinctly Victorian seaside setting.
Sweeter than Roses was a collection of English and French renaissance and baroque pieces by Dowland, Purcell, Robert Johnson, Etienne Mouliniť, Charpentier and Couperin. Janet Todd charmed the audience with her playful interpretation and excellent diction in both languages. Nicholas Pollock, himself no slouch in the French pronunciation department, talked the audience through the provenance of the various pieces. His descriptions of the mechanics of playing the lute, the theorbo and baroque guitar were almost as riveting as his performance. The playing of such multi-stringed instruments requires a manual dexterity of considerable proportions, and Pollock was more than up to the task.
An appreciative audience made up of festival stalwarts and newcomers to the delights of the pairing of music and wine sipped their way through the signature Hurley pinot noir over a generous hour-and-then-some of gorgeous music. The encore was Dowland's 'Come again, sweet love doth now invite', a fitting finale for a musical performance that truly was sweeter than roses.