Sarah El-Atm
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Sarah El-Atm

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Flinders Quartet"

SYDNEY chamber music fans may have lost the impressive Adelaide group the Grainger Quartet after they stopped touring last year, but there is a gentle invasion from Melbourne going on.

The Flinders Quartet - violinists Erica Kennedy and Matthew Tomkins, violist Helen Ireland and cellist Zoe Knighton - tested out the waters in this city last November with a concert of Schubert, Haydn and Berg, and they must have enjoyed the ripple they caused because they are back with a three-concert season at the Conservatorium.

Flagged ``inspired England’’, this opening concert featured two very different composers from Blighty in Elgar and Britten, as well as Australia’s own Carl Vine’s popular third quartet, later orchestrated and rebranded Smith’s Alchemy.

Playing to a small but receptive audience, the group showed sensitivity and fine judgment in Britten’s third quartet, written a few months before his death and in some ways his ``farewell to life’’.

The work’s five movements cover a broad spectrum of emotions and tempi, from the burlesque fourth movement - reminiscent of Britten’s friend Shostakovich - to the serene, but nevertheless restless passacaglia ending, all of which were beautifully handled by Kennedy and her colleagues.

Vine’s Smith’s Alchemy, which recently brought the house down when Gidon Kremer featured it in his Opera House concerts, is three movements in one. The outer sections are driving and rhythmic with a lyrical middle passage.

This slow section features a lovely tune, started in the cello and then taken up by the other instruments, over a gently rocking accompaniment. This leads into a harum-scarum finale which requires great precision in bowing, with the music hurtling along like a locomotive that lost its brakes.

Less muscular but no less enjoyable was the second half which featured the welcome return to Sydney of Melbourne pianist Caroline Altamonte, one-half of the highly-regarded Duo Sol.

Elgar’s piano quintet, written around the time of his cello concerto and initially considered out of synch with the immediate post-World War I mood, is a powerfully-melodic work which is heard all too rarely.

The Flinders have certainly caused a ripple here - let’s hope it becomes a bombora.



Steve Moffatt
Group Check Sub I Group Arts Editor - Manly Daily


Discography

Flinders Quartet and Genevieve Lacey cd - due to be released 1st May 2009.

Photos

Bio

I fell into classical music management and realised there was a niche market in Australia. I believe that commercial marketing and management principles can be successfully adopted to classical artist management in order to gain more exposure and greater audience sizes.
I am a freelance artist and event manager based in Melbourne. I have been working with the Flinders Quartet since the beginning of 2008 and assisted Zoe Knighton in planning and executing the inaugural Melbourne Chamber Music Feast (June 2008). I have been the Orchestral Manager for the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since January 2008 and am currently a project manager for Chamber Music Australia.
Most recently, I organised and managed the 53rd Annual General Assembly for the World Federation of International Music Competitions.
Amidst these different positions, I also present concerts in Melbourne's cbd at venues where classical music is not normally found - ie converted warehouses, the Docklands precinct and city bars. The artists I work with are similarly passionate about pushing the boundaries of classical music and attracting younger audiences.