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Cello Napoletano - baroque music - all flavours
Cello Napoletano, part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, was performed by the Tasmanian based Van Diemen's Band in honour of Naples' contribution to classical music.
Naples was the centre of the classical music world in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and was rightly known as "the Conservatory of Europe". The list of composers that called Naples home included Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Correlli, Geminiani, Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. It also celebrated lesser-known composers such as Nicolo Fiorenza, whose eccentric and hot-blooded temperament echoes through his stirring music.
The Van Diemen's Band is a hand-picked selection of the best performers of Baroque music active in Australia today. In this performance, the band was joined by Catherine Jones on cello and William Carter on guitar.
The band was led by the irrepressible Julia Fredersdorff who has been a leading light in early music in Victoria for the last decade, setting up, playing in and leading such groups as Ludovico's Band, Latitude 37 and the Peninsula Summer Festival.
The Van Diemen's Band was in its element here at the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre with a varied and enchanting program including pieces by Corelli, Boccherini, Geminiani and Scarlatti as well as introducing us to the tempestuous Nicolo Fiorenza.
The overall tone of the evening was one of playful delight. Bright, buoyant, vivacious pieces played by a group of musicians at the top of their game who conveyed their pleasure in playing music together they clearly loved. Even the minor keys of Scarlatti's Sinfonia to Love had a sweet sadness and a haunting beauty. There is no conductor so the whole group played as if they were one instrument.
The most theatrical moment was the Night Watch by Boccherini where the musicians conveyed the impression of a small marching band coming slowly into earshot and then disappearing off again into the back streets of the city. Exquisite ensemble playing with a perfect pianissimo. The other highlight was the solo cello playing of Catherine Jones, whose dramatic intensity was matched by her emotional delicacy in the slow movement of the final concerto in the concert by the rarely played Nicolo Firenze.
We should be proud that Australia can marshall a group of such talented musicians. We look forward to more imports from Tasmania of these musicians of conviction!