* Notes *
The Australian Chamber Orchestra played at Zellerbach Hall this afternoon in Berkeley. Lead by the disarming violinist Richard Tognetti, the orchestra navigated the rather disparate program very well. The energy of Haydn's Symphony No. 44 was strong, the piece was grave and even strident. This was followed by the violently lush Footwork by Roger Smalley. This United States premiere showed how tightly-knit the group is, the various dance-like figures were impressively played. The cello parts were of particular interest.
Before the intermission came three Händel arias, from Rodelinda, Giustino, and Giulio Cesare. The soloist, Andreas Scholl, started off a bit rough and thin in "Dove sei, amato bene?," but recovered quickly. His voice is incredibly sweet and warm, and his volume was fine throughout. The horn in "Va tacito e nascosto" was the best I have heard in some time, at least for this work. There were only about half a dozen notes that were off.
After the break Scholl sang three more arias, these from Saul, Giulio Cesare, and Rodelinda. The pure, effortless sound was beautiful. Pavel Haas' From the Monkey Mountain Suite, in contrast, was a disappointment. Though the musicians played gamely, the cinematic work was oddly pentatonic at times, and jazzy at other points. The percussion played by slapping the double bass and the cello was entertaining. The encore, an overture by Rameau, was dizzying and almost sounded on the verge of becoming unhinged.
* Tattling *
The hall did not look full, but someone was quite audibly just as the concert was to start. Tognetti joked that the person might just talk a little louder so that we could all hear. The house was silent, except for an unhappy child, and a man behind me commented that it was not suitable for children to be there. Oddly enough, a small child was in front of me, but he was not troublesome. He was taken home after the first half.
A cellular phone rang during "Se parla nel mio cor," but was silenced immediately. Another cellular phone or rogue hearing aid was heard at the end of "Va tacito."