Live review (and afterparty): ASO #REMASTERED

Elsabeth Parkinson learns about liquid light in the old treasury building



In Nature’s Realm/#REMASTERED
Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Adelaide Town Hall, 29-30 September

What’d you miss?

  • Pinchas Zukerman slaying it as both conductor and soloist
  • A swinging underground afterparty
  • Getting to find out what a liquid light artist does

On his latest visit to Adelaide, renowned violinist and ASO artist-in-association Pinchas Zukerman packed in chamber performances, a masterclass, and an entire orchestral concert in which he took on a dual role. This was In Nature’s Realm, the seventh concert this year in the ASO’s flagship Master Series, incorporating works inspired by the countryside. But rather than find a sizeable park for the performance, Zukerman tuned up in the Adelaide Town Hall where he was joined by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and his partner in marriage as in music, cellist Amanda Forsyth.

Elgar’s Sospiri was an emotionally gripping way to start the evening, and a useful way for me to compose myself after very nearly arriving too late to get in! Forsyth fronted the sound in this version for cello, harp and strings, while Zukerman conducted the string section’s waves of muted colour. Forsyth’s expansive tempo quickened and kindled as the soul-searching harmonies melted into a serene and ultimately major key. Her cello was warm and soaring here, though in Dvorak’s Waldesruhe it acquired more richness, burnished with vibrato, finishing on a velvety bass note.

Zukerman was both soloist and conductor in a crystal-clear rendition of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. His sound was effortlessly alive, with a host of character changes ready at the drop of a hat. The first movement’s cadenza was cheeky but also poignant; in the final movement, the violin took on a biting, teasing edge. Whether conducting or playing, Zukerman wasn’t given to flamboyant gestures, and at times seemed to hardly be moving at all; in the second movement, this tendency slightly entangled the freedom of his soloistic line in the steadfastness of the orchestra. Yet in all, the result was a tight and vivid interpretation.

This was also true of Zukerman’s Dvorak 8, an adventure across many terrains with terrifying climaxes as well as intimate soft moments. In the second movement, there was a particularly skilful dynamic shift, so sudden it felt like diving down a cliff face; the various tempos in the third movement changed on a dime in perfect synchronicity. The woodwind section was especially on fire tonight, with a rainbow of versatile colours, impressive moments of blending and some exquisite flute solos. The finale gathered the symphony’s many moods into a ball and hurled them at the finish line in a crazy, dazzling accelerando. You could almost hear fireworks going off in the rafters.

But the evening was not over yet, and after the lengthy applause I joined the stream of young people heading south along King William Road. Our destination was the colonial-era tunnels under the old Treasury Building, now the Adina Treasury Hotel. Tonight, the tunnels were the exclusive location of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s #REMASTERED series, an afterparty for 18 to 30-year-olds developed by the ASO’s Kane Moroney (you can read more about that here). Having been to the first such event in May 2016, I was eager to see for myself how it had grown since.

Passing through the quiet Adina courtyard, you’d never imagine the lively mood only a few metres away. But then you’d go down to the foot of the tunnel stairs, where you would receive a free drink of your choice, and go mingle with the vibrant and growing community of #REMASTERED guests. The tunnels are really a chain of small rooms, tonight scattered with canapé tables and comfy chairs. Between the picturesquely crumbling walls, the mood was hopping. Greeting old friends and making new ones, I drifted towards the room where the evening’s entertainment had set up.

Experimental composer-performer Dan Thorpe sat in a nest of cables, weaving textured musical atmospheres out of a keyboard, a laptop, a melodica and his own vocal cords. Beside him, liquid light artist Heath Dalziel presided over some kind of alchemist’s apparatus, comprising lamps, glass dishes and bottles, and a ripple of plastic spinning mysteriously on a tripod.

In a circle of light beamed into the opposite corner, Dalziel worked his magic. The coloured oil and water which swirled in his glass dishes became shifting galaxies and swaying underwater forests on the walls, as he manipulated the shape and  composition of the pools. Layering the projections gave the impression of a double-exposed film, and the lamps could dim or brighten to add a host of other subtleties.

At first there seemed little correlation between the two activities, but then there were definitely moments when the liquid light show was reacting to Thorpe’s music – as this grew thunderous and agitated, the glow shuddered and quivered. The combined effect was fascinating, often mesmerising; the confinement of the performance to a single room permitted the crowd to watch, to wander or to chatter as they wished.

Those whose post-concert tastes tend to quiet reflection might have preferred the courtyard. But for those who like to end their evenings as Dvorak ended his Eighth Symphony – with an exhilarating rush of colour and sensation – #REMASTERED made the perfect finale.


Images supplied. Credit: Jessica Clark.

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