In the Choir’s recent concerts (for example, our performance last December of Zelenka’s Missa Dei Patris), we have had the benefit of the company of violinist, Stan Kornel, as orchestra leader and his wife, keyboard player, Monika, on the chamber organ. It was, therefore, a pleasurable duty for a number of us to attend the first concert for 2014 of their early music group, The Sydney Consort, at St. Augustine’s Church, in Eaton Street, Balmain, on 21 February.
Entitled “Con Amore”, the concert consisted of Baroque works composed for the viola d’amore, oboe d’amore and recorder. Stan and Monika had invited a fine group of musicians to join them for the concert, including Jane Downer, a specialist on the oboe d’amore, who was briefly back from Europe, where she has played with, among other groups, Florilegium, the Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; and Hans-Dieter Michatz, for many years principal flute with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (Hans-Dieter, interestingly has a record of pioneering the performance of newly discovered works by Zelenka.) Stan Kornel played the fascinating-looking and sounding viola d’amore. Among the regular players of the ensemble is fine SSO violinist, Fiona Ziegler. On this occasion, Monika Kornel played the harpsichord.
The program consisted of two well-known works by J. S. Bach, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto,and the Concerto in A for Viola d’Amore, Telemann’s Triple Concerto for Viola d’Amore, Oboe d’Amore and Recorder, and an interesting Concerto in B Minor for a similar group of instruments by an anonymous Polish composer of the 18th Century. This program was presented with an engaging mixture of informed professionalism and panache. The concert was immensely enjoyable and those of us hearing the Sydney Consort for the first time have vowed to go and hear them again ASAP.
The next opportunity to do this comes up on Good Friday, 18 April, at 8.00 pm, when they will be presenting the Stabat Mater of Antonio Caldara, to be sung by, among others, Belinda Montgomery, soprano soloist with us last year in the St John Passion and Zelenka. This concert will also include one of Biber’s exciting dramatic sonatas and will feature sackbuts, perhaps the same ones Christopher Bowen is promising for our May concert.
Your correspondent strongly recommends the Sydney Consort’s concerts to Graduate Choir members and supporters. You can follow their news on their website. Just a couple of words of advice: parking is a little tight around St. Augustine’s, so give yourself a little time to find a spot. It is a pleasant venue, well-lit and with a good acoustic. The pews, however, appear to have been built with a view to keeping the faithful awake during the sermon. So a cushion may well be a useful accoutrement.