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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | July 28, 2021

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Sonic Beethoven Soars to New Heights

Sonic Beethoven Soars to New Heights
Claire Matthews

Sonic Beethoven was an exuberant evening of sublime chamber music and the perfect way to unwind last Friday night.

Presented by Jonathon Henderson in association with Southern Cross Soloists, Sonic Beethoven was the final instalment in the Contra Concerts series. The program featured works by Beethoven alongside contemporary works by Australian composers.

Wedged between the busy streets of Fortitude Valley, Holy Trinity Hall was a quiet space for a moment of reflection. With a vaulted timber ceiling and brick walls, this historic church was a fitting venue for an evening of intimate chamber music.

The concert began with Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major op.41, with Alex Raineri on piano and Jonathon Henderson on flute. Johnathon and Alex performed the six contrasting movements in a playful conversation.

The program then moved to the world premiere of Lisa Cheney’s Heavenly Bodies for flute and piano. Inspired by the night sky, this piece explores life’s journey and our place in space and time. The idea of Heavenly Bodies is embedded into the music through the flute’s melody climbing to stratospheric heights. This piece also experimented with how the piano makes sound. Alex plucked the piano strings making an atmospheric sound reverberate through the church. The flute and piano wove in and out in a moment of reflection, as the audience was carried off into the cosmos.

For a complete change of mood, Alex then performed Beethoven’s Rondo a Capriccio op.129 (Rage over the lost penny). Written while Beethoven was losing his hearing, this rambunctious piece expresses his frustration and sense of loss. Alex played the well known tune with a lively bounce, punching away at the keys.

To close the concert, they moved to a contemporary work by Brisbane composer Paul Dean, Falling Ever Deeper. This was a deeply emotional work, exploring personal challenges and the human condition. The work is in three movements called Maelstrom, Void and Epiphany. This virtuosic piece allowed Jonathon to showcase a rich range of flute timbres. Jonathon’s flute soared. He mastered the challenging articulations and phrasing with drama, speed and accuracy. Throughout the piece, Jonathon and Alex performed contrasting parts with balance and emotional sensitivity. This piece was made even more poignant with Paul Dean in the audience.

In all, Sonic Beethoven was a thoroughly enjoyable evening where centuries-old Beethoven met with vibrant and refreshing contemporary Australian works. Jonathon and Alex dazzled, presenting the varied, dynamic scope of the flute-piano duo. They were met with rapturous applause. We then had a glass of wine and chatted with the artists before heading out into the cold Brisbane night.

Follow Jonathan Henderson here.

Photography by Sbrana by Design.