Brenda Rae and an ANAM orchestra directed by Benjamin Bayl
Friday 6 October 2017
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall
There was a cello on the southbound #1 tram. The left hand of its minder was practising – a concerto I learned later – on the case. Lightning Brain decided the cello was most likely on its way to The Con, The VCA or ANAM. It got off near Bank St: ANAM.
|Cello - or part thereof|
The cello was learning Dvorak. The concerto is 1894 – Very Romantic Czech. Last Friday its minder swapped that for early-ish 18C French Baroque – Rameau. Clearly that involved a completely different mid-set and a whole new set of techniques. I have wondered for some time, is there anything these ANAM musos won’t tackle; is there anything won’t perform brilliantly when they do?
True, they’re all music grads; true, they’re all rigorously selected by a tough audition but they are all more than technical skill. They are musicianship, they are musical intelligence, they are music-performance energy at a level that’s almost unheard anywhere else in this city. And all this was evident with Jean-Phillipe Rameau and Brenda Rae.
There’s a direct line from Rameau to Ravel: intelligence and dry-wittedness – acerbity even. If you don’t get that you bugger it. If you don’t get the dance Rameau wrote into the score you bugger it. Brenda Rae got it. Benjamin Bayl got it. The ANAM orchestra got it.
Ms Rae’s voice has the depth, the colour, the strength and the intelligence to sing – I mean really sing – Rameau*. Her singing up front beside the conductor showed her superb technique. So did her singing up the back with the woodwinds – as a member of the orchestra. This was not just an exercise in musical democracy but the best place to be the solo part of a sort of French concerto/ballet. But her stellar technique – the apotheosis in the sense of the elevation of someone to divine status – was saved until last: singing on her bum lasciviously removing her high-heeled Roman sandals.
|Brenda Rae en-Baroque|
The Rae/Bayle/ANAM combination generated a semi-standing ovation. Why are Melbourne audiences so mean-minded in this regard? This performance demanded the full foot-stomping, bravo-ing/brava-ing, hands-above-your-head clapping sort of applause.
*If she sings more than one Rameau is she singing Rameaux? … Sorry!