By Peter Leung, ClassikOn, 3 March 2016
The essence of sadness and introspection captured the audience
Kicking off their 2016 series Omega ensemble explored the work of Bernard Herrmann, a prolific composer most notable for his numerous collaborations with both Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells. The concert, which came about originally from Rowden’s desire to perform Herrmann’s Clarinet Quintet, began with the composer’s Echoes For String Quartet, which was coloured by a beautiful sense of sadness and introspection. The musicians captured this essence beautifully, grabbing the audience’s attention and holding it throughout the relatively lengthy work. Of particular note was the performance of cellist Teije Hylkema, whose tone colour throughout the concert was wonderfully dark and sonorous. Following Echoes was the string suite arrangement of the film score from Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho. Through their playing the musicians vividly painted the movie’s notable scenes, taking the audience by the hand and leading them through the film. Particularly outstanding and entertaining was the movement representing the infamous shower scene.
Dramatic and nostalgic melody
After the interval, Herrmann’s Clarinet Quintet ‘Souvenirs de Voyage’ opened with a dramatic and nostalgic melody, full of longing and tinged with loneliness. Coincidentally this occurred at the same moment two yachts were passing the Utzon Room’s window and each other, which only served to strengthen the emotions of the music. Rowden once again demonstrated his ability to effortlessly perform lyrically and with sophistication. The final work of the concert was the world premiere of Nicole Brady’s Postlude, a homage to Bernard Herrmann. The work featured not only the clarinet quintet instrumentation, but also an actor (Goddard) and a creative technologist (Carey). The work highly contrasted to the rest of the concert, with Goddard the prerecorded sounds creating an intense sense of anxiety, which was strengthened by the musicians. Overall the concert was highly varied and enjoyed by all!