Review: Chamber to Charleston

The Omega Ensemble is doing a great service to the Australian music scene: not only are they supremely talented instrumentalists, but they are bringing to the public’s attention nuggets of genius and beauty from the Western Canon. A case in point was their most recent concert at City Recital Hall, where they played a highly varied programme, showcasing their versatility and musicianship. The programme was notable, too, for the unique instrumentation of each of the pieces, some of them concerti for solo instrument with chamber accompaniment. The success of the performances hinged on the Omega Ensemble being able to absorb the solo instrument into the chamber setting.

The first piece was Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for flute, clarinet, string quartet and harp, but there is little wonder why it has often been called a concerto for harp and chamber group, as the harp predominates throughout with its flourishes and cadenza passages. The virtuosity of Jane Rosenson here was particularly notable. The Debussian colours of this work of high impressionism were wonderfully synthesised, with violin ricochets, flute trills, rumblings in the lower strings, and chromatic lines in the clarinet and flute weaving threw the music fabric, at times playful, at times haunting.