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  1. CSO Mixtape: Simon Hewett

    Simon Hewett, incoming Principal Guest Conductor (Image: Penny Bradfield)

    Simon Hewett studied clarinet and conducting at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, graduating with First Class Honours and a University Medal.

    After receiving a German Government Scholarship, Simon continued his conducting studies at the Hochschule für Musik ‘Franz Liszt’ in Weimar, Germany from 1998 to 2001. From 2002 to 2003 he was a member of Opera Australia’s Young Artists’ Programme, and he has since returned regularly to Opera Australia as a guest conductor.

    In 2005 Simon was invited by Simone Young to join the Hamburg State Opera as Resident Conductor and Assistant Music Director. From 2010-2016 he was Principal Conductor of the Stuttgart Opera. After conducting the premiere of John Neumeier’s Parsifa at the Baden Baden Festspielhaus in 2006, Simon Hewett was appointed Principal Conductor. In addition, his regular performances in Hamburg he has toured with the Hamburg Ballet to the Salzburg Festival, Australia, USA, Hong Kong and Japan. As a symphonic conductor Simon has appeared with the Queensland, Melbourne, Sydney and West Australian Symphony Orchestras.

    Simon has recently moved with his family back to Brisbane where he has taken on a role as Music Director of the Queensland Youth Orchestras Organisation.

    From 2021 Simon Hewett will be Principal Guest Conductor with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

    Listening notes

    Heinrich Ignaz Franz von BIBER Passacaglia (Rosenkranzsonaten)
    Andrew Manze

    I first listened to Biber’s Rosenkranzsonatten as a teenager. The Passacaglia is the final piece in a sequence of 15 ‘Rosary Sonatas,’ composed in 1676 but only discovered and published in 1905! The Passacaglia is a piece that always restores my sense of calm and balance – like a meditation.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Prelude and Fugue in E (WTK, Book II, No.9), BWV 878
    András Schiff

    One of my favourites from the Well Tempered Klavier. The Prelude is like a delicate trio sonata, I imagine two flutes and bassoon, or two violins and a cello when playing this. The Fugue is like a glorious four-part choral fugue, lyrical, rich and resonant.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227

    I heard the great Thomanerchor of Leipzig sing this when I was studying in Weimar. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the thought that this choir has been performing the works of Bach uninterrupted since Bach himself was Kantor in Leipzig, from 1723 until his death in 1750.

    Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Le Nozze di Figaro, K. 492 Atto secondo
    Concerto Köln, René Jacobs, Véronique Gens

    One of the crowning glories of the operatic repertoire. I conducted a new production for Opera Australia in 2012. The aria that opens the act, ‘Porgi Amor’, is one of the most beautiful, heartrending expressions of loneliness and marital unhappiness ever written.

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132

    The slow movement is one of the most profound things Beethoven ever wrote (and that is saying a lot!). It alternates between serene, solemn, hymn-like episodes and ecstatic dance. Beethoven subtitles the movement ‘Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent, in the Lydian mode.’

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101

    A sometimes overlooked, late sonata. I love the first movement, which in its intense, concentrated lyricism, anticipated Schumann. The Scherzo is almost Prokofiev-like in its rhythmic verve, but the short Adagio and final Fugue could only be by Beethoven!

    Johannes BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet In B Minor, Op.115
    Amadeus Quartet, Karl Leister

    One of the reasons I became a musician, and one of the glories of the whole repertoire of 19th Century chamber music. Brahms at his fullest, richest outpouring of genius. Lyrical, dramatic, melancholy, formally disciplined while at the same time full of Viennese elegance and Hungarian passion – it’s just one of my favourite pieces in the whole world.

    Arrigo BOITO, Giuseppe VERDI Otello: Act I
    James Levine

    One of my favourite operas. I conducted a production at the Sydney Opera House and in Hamburg. From the exhilarating opening scene in the midst of a storm, through Iago’s famous drinking song, to Desdemona and Otello’s achingly beautiful love duet, it is as perfect an opening to an opera as it is possible to imagine!

    Richard WAGNER Parsifal / Act 3

    Nietzsche criticised Wagner for the subject matter of his final opera, Parsifal. But Nietzsche never listened to the music – he only read the libretto! The piece is five hours long, but I always leave a performance as if on a cloud. For all of Wagner’s faults, and there were many, he sure could conjure breathtaking sounds from an orchestra.

    Hermann VON GILM, Richard STRAUSS Zueignung, Op.10, No.1
    Richard STRAUSS Morgen, Op.27, No.4

    Two songs that my wife and I had sung at our wedding. Songs that make me feel glad, and thankful.

    Gustav MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor
    City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

    The seventh is one of Mahler’s darkest symphonies, but it ends in jubilation. The sombre grandeur of the opening movement, the macabre scherzo, and the thrilling and uplifting finale….This symphony has such an enormous range of expression, one of my favourites.

    Friedrich RÜCKERT, Gustav MAHLER Rückert-Lieder: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
    Leonard Bernstein, Thomas Hampson, Wiener Philharmoniker

    One for the desert island, or a mountain top – ‘ich bin Der Welt abandon gekommen.’

    Sergei PROKOFIEV Romeo and Juliet, Op.64 / Act 4 52. Juliet’s Death
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

    The end of the greatest ballet ever composed (yes really!!). Prokofiev finds the exact emotional register for the end of a tragedy – like after you have had a good cry and you feel utterly exhausted, hollowed out. The high passions have run their course, and you leave the performance emotionally spent, but at peace. I conducted this work many times in Hamburg, and at the Paris Opera. I look forward to performing the suite with CSO next year!

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  2. CSO Mixtape: Leanne Bear

    Leanne Bear, Violin (Image: Peter Hislop)

    Violinist and composer Leanne Bear graduated from the University of Queensland and travelled on scholarship around Europe with violin and purple suit, performing her avant-garde violin works and learning from acclaimed teachers. Back in Australia, she married Tor Frømyhr and moved to Canberra in 1997. Since then, Leanne has enjoyed performing regularly with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO), as well as other Australian orchestras including the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and as Concertmaster of varying ensembles from the Opera Orchestra in Brisbane to the Canberra Bach Ensemble.

    Leanne is an enthusiastic chamber musician; memorable performances include: Pereira/Australian String Quartet for the Leigh Warren and Dancers Quiver tour (1998), performing and tutoring at Mt Buller Chamber Music School (2003), National Music Camp, Taabinga chamber music schools and festivals, and conducting at Coffs Harbour String School (2015).  In 1999, Leanne played solo violin in Andrew Ford’s Furry Dance with the CSO. While still a student, Leanne became a tutor at the University of Queensland in harmony / counterpoint and aural. She was also director of the Contemporary Ensemble at the ANU School of Music until 2012.

    As a composer, Leanne has focused on large-scale chamber works since 2011. A career highlight was conducting and performing the highly acclaimed Imaginessence concert (2012), featuring her piano sextet and cello ensemble work among others – the first concert of her major works to be presented in Canberra. Other highlights include her Postcards to Hungary piano trio, commissioned and performed in Budapest by Fezek Music Club and Kodály Liszt Academy (2015); Märchen aus dem Wienerwald for salon orchestra, Bruckner Hall, Linz (2015); Auvergne for cello and piano commissioned and performed, Auvergne, France (2016). A 2018 highlight was her CSO commission, Art Nouveau, premiered in the Recital Series by Bernadette Harvey (piano) and Julian Smiles (cello) and described by a CityNews reviewer as “…the work of a major composer….who is making Australian history”. In 2019, the renowned PLEXUS trio commissioned and premiered Leanne’s Nôtre Gothique at the Melbourne Recital Centre – PLEXUS will perform the work in the CSO’s 2021 Australian Series.

    Marriage, three children and a property in the Yass Valley seem to be a vibrant environment for this versatile artist’s forest of inspiration.
    More about Leanne

    Selected listening notes

    As I listen to the music and write these notes, I’m sitting outside on my deck, absorbing the sights and sounds of this lush springtime amongst rural bliss. The garden is flourishing and fragrant, wildlife abounds and the boronia and roses form a beautiful foreground to the mountains in the distance.

    I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy this scenery, not just because of current world crises, but also after years of crippling drought followed by firestorms in Australia. I dedicate this mixtape, “Evocative Landscapes”, to those who wish a musical escape into serene beauty for healing and refreshing, and to celebrate landscapes from around the world.

    Whilst featuring Nordic and French composers, from late Romantic to early Twentieth Century, missing from the mixtape is a host of other composers and pieces that celebrate nature, like Pēteris Vasks’ recent string music or his piano landscapes, late Liszt, Messiaen, Rautavaara, Janáček, Delius, and Kodaly… as well as scenes from so many other countries and Australian composers – but we would be here for weeks! Therefore, I have just included music that reflects the mood I am in now, with some of my favourite pieces that blend together or that feature a performer / composer I admire, to form a cohesive playlist.

    LEANNE BEAR

    Joseph CANTELOUBE Chants d’Auvergne 2. Bailero

    We begin this musical adventure in the mountains of the Auvergne in Southern France, where Canteloube was born. These folk-song arrangements reflect the composer’s love of his rural homeland and form the priceless heritage of his collection of folk tunes throughout France. Baïlèro is famous for its beauty; one can imagine the shepherd and shepherdess calling out to each other across the hills in their native Occitan, but how often do we hear the other richly evocative songs from all five suites?

    So here is another:

    Joseph CANTELOUBE Chants d’Auvergne 5. Pastorale

    I chose a similar piece – another shepherd’s song, which begins with a Mahler-esque evocation of spring, the clarinet cuckoo, cor anglais and flute, and rustlings of rebirth. One can almost see the lush spring meadows brimming with life. The colours and contours of orchestration are skilful and empathetic, often with woodwind solos of chromatic and modal figures, and the golden voice of Kiri Te Kanawa soars above. As with Grainger, Canteloube is most famous for his folk-song settings, but it would be wonderful if his other works could be better known. Reminds me of Puccini and English composers of the time.

    Edvard GRIEG Holberg Suite, op. 40 I. Preludium (Allegro vivace), II. Sarabande (Andante), III. Gavotte (Allegretto) – Musette (Poco piu mosso) – Gavotte (Allegretto)
    Helsinki Strings conducted by Géza Szilvay 

    This was the first piece I listened to for this project, and I was moved to tears by the power of the music after a long drought of music-making. My mother instilled in me a love of Grieg who we later learned was Nordic / Scottish – given she is mostly Scot and I’ve married a mostly-Norwegian, this is musical home! Included here are three of the five movements of this well-loved work.

    I had to include some recordings by the celebrated Helsinki Strings – not only do they produce the most lush and harmonious sound, with astonishingly beautiful interpretation, but I was astonished upon hearing this music to learn that they are a youth orchestra conducted by their teachers: Géza (violin) and Csaba Szilvay (cello), the Finland-based Hungarian brothers who created the Colourstrings method! I was compelled, hearing their music, to go and study with Géza, and later had the honour of conducting the Helsinki Strings in a workshop of my music. His brother Csaba introduced my music to the Liszt Academy in Hungary where I had commissions and whole concerts of my music! This has been the musical highlight of my life.

    Edward ELGAR Serenade for Strings in E minor, op. 20 III. Allegretto
    Helsinki Strings

    The entire work is warm and expansive and reminds me of Brahms sextets. I’ve included just the third movement here – I wanted to include his monumental Introduction and Allegro, but the serenade better fits with the atmosphere.

    Jean SIBELIUS Rakastava Suite, op. 14
    Helsinki Strings conducted by Géza Szilvay 

    I. The Lover

    Throughout his illustrious composing career, Sibelius wrote often for strings; being a violinist himself, his consummate mastery of string writing and possibilities is clear. Rakastava, “The Lover” seems a shimmeringly sensitive and passionate expression of a love story.

    II. The Path of the Beloved

    This scherzo-like movement seems to gather momentum through a winter expanse, and the bells (triangle) perhaps signal imminent arrival.

    III. Good Night – Farewell
    Featuring Lea Tuuri (violin), Csilla Szilvay (cello)

    I love the insistent suspension. The coda really does sound like a tearful farewell. The interpretation is so poignant and moving.

    Jean SIBELIUS Symphony No. 6 in D minor, op. 104 i. Allegro molto moderato
    Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi

    The ultimate blissful Spring symphony by Sibelius. Lush and lyrical – but surprisingly short, and described by the composer as “pure spring water”. You can actually hear the rustling birch forest, nature exploding in its brief warm season. At the poignant moment of cherished bliss, it modulates with dissonance that reveals the incoming key, and continues. Then, once again startling in the double ending. Search out the other movements and enjoy another joyous musical celebration full of momentum, and a surprising finale that drifts off into another world.

    Jean SIBELIUS Lemminkaïnen suite op. 22 I. Lemminkaïnen and the Maidens of the Island

    The Kalevala is Finland’s national saga, passed down orally by the Poets for centuries, and treasured most in the areas of Karelia which is now part of Russia. The Kalevala is a limitless source of inspiration for Finnish artists; Sibelius delved into these legends for his music. I actually visited the area north-east of Finland closest to the Russian border, and was utterly captivated by this unique Karelian culture. Having absorbed as much of Sibelius’ works as I could find – soaking up the violin concerto, all seven symphonies, the Karelia and Kuolema suites, Tempest, Oceanides, Tapiola, and as much of his string orchestra music as I could find – it came as a total surprise to hear this early work of his. I was blown away by the opening horn chords; the rest is a gorgeous musical legend.

    I know I’ve included a lot of Sibelius, but I had to put this one in for it to be more recognised. Can you hear the symphony 2 & Karelia sounds that swirl up to a passionate dance, and, later on, a violin solo? Enjoy the inimitable Sibelian long climax that swirls the listener along with the musical drama irrevocably to the finish.

    Marin MARAIS 4ème Livre de Pièces de viole: Le Badinage
    Featuring Jordi Savall (viol), Rolf Lislevand (théorbe) 

    A poignant tune from the 1992 film Tous les Matins du Monde (featuring Gerard Depardieu and his son), about the young Marin Marais who travels to the countryside hoping to learn from the austere master violist Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. Grief-stricken after the death of his wife, Sainte-Colombe builds a tiny hut and retreats there to endlessly play his viol. With only a chair, a table, some bread and wine, and the vision of his dead wife, he writes his impassioned compositions in a large leather book (I love that scene and have tried to recreate it at times!). The viol music is so complex and rich.

    It’s no surprise therefore that my son now learns the viola da gamba, and that we drove down to Melbourne to see Jordi Savall perform.

    Gabriel FAURÉ Après un Rêve
    Janos Starker (cello) 
    Claude DEBUSSY Beau Soir, L. 6
    Janine Jansen (violin)
    Edvard GRIEG Våren (orchestral version)
    Barbara Bonney (soprano)

    Various arrangements exist for these three love songs, but I think these versions beautifully capture the atmosphere of each poem. We get swept along by the musical beauty, poised on a precipice. The wistful and dreamlike “after a dream” on cello, the ecstatic moonlit tryst of “beautiful night” (also a favourite violin piece), and the colours of “last spring” shimmer in the orchestra with the crystalline beauty of Barbara Bonney’s voice. I adore her CD Diamonds in the Snow of Scandinavian gems for voice and piano.

    Erik SATIE Gnossiennes: No. 4
    Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)

    Satie is famous for his Gymnopedies and Gnossienne No. 1, but the other four Gnossienes are just as original and charming, evocative of an ancient Greek scene, perhaps picturing rugged sun-drenched hills, with olive trees or the stone steps of architectural ruins.

    Variously described as a genius or a joker in his lifetime, his music is now celebrated as revolutionary. From the early Gnossiennes onwards, Satie got rid of bar lines, and wrote surreal notes in the score for the performer, and was the inventor of furniture music. I have long admired his Bohemian lifestyle and collaborations with the avant-garde artists of his day. When I visited Paris for the first time in 2015, I stayed in Montmartre near to Satie’s flat and paid homage.

    Maurice RAVEL Miroirs, M. 43 No. 2, Oiseaux Tristes
    Jacques Rouvier (piano)

    Totally enraptured by Ravel, I played this incredibly atmospheric piece as a teen, learning how to really sing notes on the piano – Jacques Rouvier explains this in his masterclass on YouTube. Just watching him play those bell-like sounds is revelatory. It evokes a languid summer scene; one can imagine the heat shimmering, the silent expanse broken by the call of the lonely bird. Recalling the songs of the Auvergne, it’s a similar kind of scene to Ravel’s birthplace in the mountains of southern France.

    Further listening: The rest of the Miroirs, Gaspard de la Nuit (piano original), everything by Tzigane.

    Sergei RACHMANINOFF 10 Preludes, op. 23 No. 4 in D major

    Another “landscape of the soul”, as I call these wondrous pieces that transport us to somewhere in our imaginations, in our hearts. I had to throw in this favourite, heart-wrenchingly sublime piece of Rachmaninoff.

    Franz SCHUBERT String Quintet in C, D. 956 2. Adagio
    Miklós Perényi, Takács Quartet

    I’m transported by this serenely beautiful work by Schubert. I also wanted to include a work featuring my favourite cellist, Miklós Perényi. Along with the Takács , his musicality and devotion to the score is supreme.

    Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No. 3 ‘Pastorale’

    The title says it all, save for utterly unique sound world that is Vaughan Williams – each of his symphonies is so novel! Notable string writing – luxurious and textured, as in his Thomas Tallis piece. Listen for the beautiful violin solo reminiscent of Lark Ascending, as well as surprising modal transitions and suspensions similar to those that Sibelius and Canteloube employ. But essentially, be carried away on a luscious symphonic fantasy.

    Curator profile: Leanne Bear

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

    Hi, I’m Leanne Bear, violinist, and I live on 17 acres on the Yass River. I’ve been playing violin in the CSO for over 20 years now!

    How did you come to be a musician?

    My mother was a piano teacher; I think I was born listening to Bach. Mum taught me the piano – and at 90 she is teaching my daughter fourth grade! – and I started learning violin at school. But it was an overall love of music that was there from the start such that I couldn’t be anything else.

    If I wasn’t able to be a musician I would be a creative of some sort – an artist or a writer. I think I already am really, I just love splashing paint on a canvas and I’m currently writing a story with music for a young friend. My grandfather was a one-man newspaper and I’ve inherited a love of typography and stationery.

    What’s your most treasured childhood memory related to music?

    Growing up in country Queensland, my musical opportunities were few, but when I attended McGregor Summer School in Toowoomba at 13 I was utterly blown away by the experience of playing in a full symphony orchestra – playing Sibelius 2 and Prokofiev’s Troika from Lieutenant Kije! – and also the total absorption into chamber music and the love of music shining through the influence of tutors Len Dommet, Nelson Cooke, Rob Harris, and many more.

    Tell us a bit about someone who had a formative influence on you in your creative development.

    I want to mention an unsung hero: my first violin teacher at age 11, Glenys Shannon. Glenys started with nothing and built up an entire string school in Hervey Bay / Maryborough, thanks to her devotion to music and persistence. I also want to mention Spiros Rantos, a teacher I saw monthly in Toowoomba, whose impeccable musicianship and Viennese technique taught me how to play Mozart.

    Describe a memorable music experience you enjoyed as an audience member.

    When I was studying in London I went to a prom concert at Albert Hall. Ruggiero Ricci was playing but all I could focus on was a single pink balloon that was cycling through the expansive ceiling draughts, poised at once on the rafters and then floating down, directly towards Mr Ricci! You could hear a collective intake as the balloon nearly touched down on his esteemed head before slowly drifting up to the ceiling and bouncing gently across the rafters, before the ineffable drifting downwards again. Ricci was utterly unaware of the circus going on above his head! I was trying so very hard not to laugh. How did these Britons do it?

    Name three places in Canberra that hold some significance for you.

    Canberra is the best place to bring up adventurous children! The National Botanic Gardens, Parliament House café and the National Museum of Australia are memorable places because they had child-friendly, free, open spaces where I could hang out with my tiny children and let them joyfully run about!

    What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year?

    I’ve learned this past year that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that there will be lush regrowth and recovery in nature.

    What advice would you give to your younger self?

    Just because someone is in an influential position, that doesn’t make them right. Don’t listen to the rubbish that selfish people spout and stick to your instincts. If only I’d known that I had ADHD, I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself and so misunderstood. Locked in tiny cupboards to practice … Bear, go outside and practice under a tree!

    Name three people you’d like to invite to dinner, living or dead.

    Well, I always feel for the incredible artists who died unrecognised or forgotten, but being limiting to three is hard! Let’s have Van Gogh, Schubert and a lucky dip draw of a female composer. Hopefully they wouldn’t mind that I’d be too overawed to cook!

    If you were a piece of fruit, which would you be and why?

    A cloudberry. They live forever and don’t get wrinkles or something?

    What’s something you love doing that has nothing to do with music?

    It was the most rewarding experience when my beautiful red border collie Rosy had six pups. Is there anything better in this world than being clambered all over by fluffy, cute, loving puppies?

    THIS CSO MIXTAPE SUPPORTED BY
    THE AERIE AT NARRABUNDAH, BY LENDLEASE Canberra’s newest boutique over 55’s community delivering resort style living.
     
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  3. CSO Mixtape: Julia Janiszewski

    Julia Janiszewski

    An alumna of the Canberra School of Music, cellist Julia Janiszewski was one of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural Kingsland Residents. A prolific chamber and orchestral musician, Julia has toured internationally with the Childers Street Quartet and the Australian Youth Orchestra, and has been a core member of the Sydney-based Mariner Trio and the Brisbane-based Taimana Ensemble.

    In addition to her classical performance, Julia enjoys side-gigging as a freelancer in jazz, folk, and contemporary contexts. She has collaborated with artists such as Benny Maupin, the RAah Project, Darol Anger, Tristan Clarridge, Duncan Wickel and Lena Jonsson.

    Julia began her cello studies with Louise King in 2004, at the age of 11, studying subsequently with Matthew Farrell, David Pereira, Julian Smiles, and Meta Weiss. During her conservatorium years, Julia received numerous prizes and awards, including First Class Honours, the Corinna D’Hage String Scholarship, the Basil Jones Sonata Prize, the Margeret Smiles Most Outstanding Instrumentalist prize and the Griffith University Postgraduate Award.

    Julia is an established cello teacher of eight years and a strong advocate for outreach and education initiatives in classical music.
    More about Julia

    Selected listening notes

    At times it has seemed impossible to keep this mixtape under two hours, resulting in a lot of terrific works ending up on the cutting room floor (is Mahler’s third symphony really over an hour and a half?). In the end, I’ve settled on compiling a playlist of works and recordings that have, at one point or another, had a profound impact on my development as a musician and of which I can’t help but smile (or cry) when I listen to them.

    JULIA JANISZEWSKI

    Carl VINE AO Inner World (from Cello World)
    Steven Isserlis (cello)

    First on the playlist is an extraordinary work by Carl Vine that is even more extraordinary to experience live (and even more extraordinary still to perform – this was the piece I chose to cap off my graduating recital from the Sydney Conservatorium and I’ll never forget the experience).

    Inner World is a piece for amplified cello and tape (its official instrumentation delightfully evokes a 90s nostalgia; realistically, the piece would be performed today with the backing track from a tablet or laptop hooked into an AV system). The “tape”, as it’s called, is comprised entirely of sounds generated by an acoustic cello and edited by Vine in a digital audio workstation to create an ethereal and often alien palette that compliments – and occasionally wrestles with – the live player onstage. Long-time Canberra audiences will be chuffed to discover that the cellist responsible for every sound in the tape is David Pereira, making this piece an especially significant work in the Australian cello repertoire.

    Steven Isserlis’ recording manages to capture the excitement and thrill of a live performance and strengthens the already unique character of the piece with his distinctive gut string sound. If you ever get a chance to see this work live, I highly recommend it; until then, this track is an exemplary demonstration.

    BEN SOLLEE Letting Go (from Letting Go)
    Ben Sollee (cello and voice)

    One of my more recent discoveries has been the world of folk cello: I attended a folk fiddle camp in Queensland in 2016 and have been hooked ever since, exploring the folk techniques and traditions that have developed in tandem alongside the classical string tradition but have only in recent decades begun to intermingle. This song was one of the first I listened to within that intermingled space, and it’s a favourite that I regularly return to.

    Ben Sollee is an American cellist that combines the fidelity of sound and intonation that one identifies with a classical tradition with soulful and powerful vocals. In Letting Go, composed for the 2013 film Killing Season, Sollee exemplifies the versatility of expression and rhythmic power of the cello, transporting listeners to the Appalachian countryside and a golden sunset.

    Johannes BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D major I. Allegro ma non troppo
    Hilary Hahn (violin), Sir Neville Marriner (composer), Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

    The first movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto is an Everest not just for the player but the listener, clocking in at over 20 minutes and taking up a sizeable portion of this playlist. However, I couldn’t pass it by: in my humble opinion, this movement is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written and seems to contain the whole prism of the human experience within it. Moments of triumphant jubilation, of indescribable tenderness, of passionate rage, and glimmers of uncertainty and doubt combine to make a music statement like no other.

    This recording takes the crown for the first time I’d ever listened to a work the entire way through with unwavering attention; I think I might’ve been 14 or 15 at the time and only been playing cello for about 3 years (the sum of my musical cultivation at that time was thinking the cello solo in Pirates of the Caribbean was pretty neat). Hilary Hahn plays with virtuosity and expressivity of the highest order, with an orchestra that is sensitive to her every nuance and inflection.

    Igor STRAVINSKY Petrushka: Selections from the Fourth Tableau (The Shrovetide Fair)
    Sir Simon Rattle (conductor), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

    I had the great privilege of performing the orchestral suite to Stravinsky’s Petrushka in the 2014 Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp, and it remains the most defining orchestral experience of my life. The Fourth Tableau is a brilliant kaleidoscope of symphonic colours and textures and is terrific fun to play: when the camp’s conducter Alexandre Bloch told the room of young, impressionable musicians to play the Danse des cochers et des palefreniers as a modern-day house party rave with its “doof doof” rhythm (“turn on the subwoofer”), it was no wonder there was vicarious head banging in the concert.

    Included in this playlist is a short segment of the Fourth Tableau (ending on the aforementioned and irresistibly fun Danse des cochers et des palefreniers ­– seriously, do turn on the subwoofer at 1:25). This recording with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra does a great job of capturing the joy felt by the musicians as they go absolutely ham, as the kids say.

    PUNCH BROTHERS It’s All Part of the Plan (from All Aboard)

    I’m generally not one for following bands too closely – I tend to gravitate towards individual songs rather than the artists themselves. Punch Brothers are the notable exception: it seems no matter what they produce, I’m interested and invested, and no other contemporary band has affected my musical development quite the same way. Combining impeccable instrumental technique with a highly cultivated musical sensibility, they push against the boundaries of progressive bluegrass/folk in a way that is at once both intellectual and emotional. Some listeners might recognise mandolin player Chris Thile from his excellent recording of the Bach Violin Partitas and Sonatas.

    It’s All Part of the Plan is by no means my favourite song of the Punch Brothers; truth be told, I would’ve happily put any of their tracks in this playlist. I settled on this one because it is a very eloquent example of the band’s appeal to both the head and the heart: it feels very intuitive despite the time signature of 5/4 and a key centre that shifts almost imperceptibly throughout the song.

    Sergei RACHMANINOFF Cello Sonata in G minor III. Andante & IV. Allegro mosso
    Torleif Thedéen (cello), Roland Pöntinen (piano)

    I played the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata during my second year of study at the Canberra School of Music during an emotionally turbulent year: I had been struggling with serious playing-related injuries that prompted a complete revision of my technique (to say nothing of the doubts they cast on my dreams to be a professional musician), and the School was in the middle of one of its most significant financial challenges in which the value of classical music was questioned at every corner. Needless to say, it wasn’t a climate that engendered much faith in the music industry, and I look back on that time as largely one of listlessness and hopelessness. I have this sonata to thank for being the reason to smile through it all: it was picked up as a passion project between me and a pianist friend, and we workshopped it over the course of 7 months and performed it many times.

    Torleif Thedéen is one of the finest cellists of his generation, and this 1988 recording with pianist Roland Pöntinen is a personal favourite of mine. I love the fourth movement for its radiant joy, but it was necessary to include on this playlist the utterly sublime third movement which is Rachmaninoff at his finest.

    Samuel BARBER Violin Concerto II. Andante
    Hilary Hahn (violin), Hugh Wolff (conductor), Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

    The second movement of Barber’s Violin Concerto is on this playlist for a highly personal reason that will remain personal; it suffices to say that this is a transcendent movement that in another, more ideal universe would’ve been the capstone of the entire concerto (Barber was compelled by his patron to add the flashy third movement – while fun, I think it’s not as effective an ending).

    Hilary Hahn delivers a delicate expression to the movement that is tender (but never saccharine) and drives the pace forward in moments where others might languish, saving her full outpouring for the big moments.

    JACOB COLLIER With the Love in My Heart (from Djesse Vol. 1)
    Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest

    If you ask me to name the greatest musical genius alive today, I would without hesitation say Jacob Collier. I’m yet to find another musician that has such a complete understanding of every technical element (rhythm, harmony, melody, intonation, instrumentation, audio engineering, you name it) whilst retaining a child-like wonder and joy for all music, from the great Western classical works to the ethnomusical traditions of Morrocan Gnawa music. In the words of YouTuber Adam Neely, “[Jacob Collier] is obnoxiously good at music”. Most insultingly, he’s only 26.

    Whilst Collier’s music can sometimes be impenetrably technical, Djesse Vol. 1 is at least definably “progressive funk”. With the Love in My Heart is a delight to listen to, and to listen to often: there are so many small details that reward repeated engagement, and it’s a go-to of mine for road trips. If your subwoofer is still on from Petrushka, keep an ear out for 1:41.

    Paul STANHOPE Piano Trio No. 1 “Dolcissimo Uscignolo”
    University of Queensland Chamber Players

    Paul Stanhope’s Dolcissimo Uscignolo (translating to “sweetest nightingale”) was one of the first contemporary Australian chamber works I performed during my final year at the Sydney Conservatorium with two dear friends, and what an experience that was: it’s an exciting work with a plethora of extended techniques that are emblematic of contemporary classical (at one point, the pianist has to reach into the belly of their instrument and pluck the strings directly). Whilst it has driving, dissonant passages with angular rhythms, there is also a beauty that belies its inspiration from the Montiverdi work of the same name. The ending in particular is bittersweet and melancholy, keeping the players and listeners in a suspended and mesmerised silence for long after the last note has sounded.

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN String Quartet No. 15 in A minor III. Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der Lydischen Tonart
    Goldner String Quartet

    The extensive title of this movement translates to “Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode”. It was written as a prayer of thanks after Beethoven recovered from a serious illness that he had feared was fatal, and is a timeless expression of gratitude, faith, and hope.

    The Goldner String Quartet’s recordings of the Beethoven cycle remains one of the greatest cultural achievements of this country: recorded live in 2008, it never fails to astonish to hear the applause at the end of each work to remind you that these weren’t judiciously stitched in an editing booth after multiple takes, but that the perfect ensemble and perfect expression was a product of that moment in time from Australia’s finest.

    I close out my playlist with this movement, apt as it is for our place in history, as a prayer for a world that needs healing: not just from the horrors of the pandemic, but from the threat of climate change and the dangers to democracy in a post-truth internet age. Beethoven, in all his ineffable genius, reminds us that hope springs eternal.

    Curator profile: Julia Janiszewski

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

    My name is Julia Janiszewski, and I am a Canberra based cellist. I was one of the inaugural Kingsland Resident Artists, and now enjoy working with the CSO as a member of the cello section.

    How did you come to be a musician?

    Both my brother and sister started playing violin through our primary school’s string program – I wasn’t interested, as the violin was too squeaky for me! But then my siblings came back from an evening of busking with a hat full of coins each and I was thrilled at the prospect of making money, so picked up the violin the very next day. A few months later, after my mum catching me practicing the violin like a cello (holding it between the knees) on multiple occasions, I was given my own cello as a present and haven’t looked back since.

    Name three careers you could see yourself in if you weren’t a musician (and tell us why).

    An author, a filmmaker, or a historian. I love story-telling and love any work that has an element of personal craft to it.

    Describe your best and worst gigs.

    Best gigs are the ones with great friends in a great acoustic playing timeless repertoire (it also helps if the hors d’oeuvres are good). Worst gigs are the outdoor ones with armies of flies and extreme weather events.

    Tell us about your favourite performance space.

    I have a special fondness for the Wesley Music Centre here in Canberra: lots of great memories as both a performer and a member of the audience.

    For what in life do you feel most grateful?

    The family and friends who have been there through the best and worst of times.

    What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

    Don’t sweat the small stuff; every experience is a formative one, even the bad (heck, especially the bad).

    Are you a cat person or a dog person?

    If I had to choose, I’d say cat, but I love both cats and dogs very much and dream of the day I can have five of each.

    What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

    Currently working my way through British pianist Stephen Hough’s book “Rough Ideas”, and enjoying it very much. It’s a fascinating insight into one of the most thoughtful and intelligent minds in classical music today.

    What’s something you love doing that has nothing to do with music?

    I’m an avid gamer, and am the biggest Dungeons and Dragons nerd you will ever meet.

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