All Killer No Filler

QPAC’s Concert Hall was packed for QSO’s Superfamous night. ABC radio host Craig Zonca asked the audience how many people were first-timers and a goodly number raised their hands.  Superfamous is a perfect introduction to the QSO: 10 pieces of, well super famous, classical music that nearly everyone has heard somewhere.  And a few not-so well known pieces that tempt the listener to explore further.

The program started with Rossini’s lively Overture to The Barber of Seville—and I must admit it’s difficult not to see Bugs Bunny perched on Elmer Fudd’s head.  Makes you wonder how many people were introduced to classic music from a very young age.

The audience settled in for Kats-Chernin’s Eliza Aria from the Wild Swans Suite – there is something so calming and soothing about this piece. Written for the Australian Ballet, the music for Wild Swans is Kate Bush meets Tubular Bells in a tranquil Aussie setting. Elena Kats-Chernin has such a distinctive sound – her blend of high piano clipped with violin isn’t as discordant as it sounds.  One of my favourite pieces and a reminder that wonderful music is being written in Australia today.

The programme moved from Debussy’s Clair de Lune through Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 in A – the orchestra was masterful (as always) and the QSO truly leaned in to the pieces. Perhaps for the newbies, the most easily recognisable were the pieces from movies.  I mean who doesn’t love a little Morricone?  This time we were served Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission—look, it’s an oboe, it’s haunting, it’s quintessential Morricone.  And thanks to Huw Jones for reminding us, we all need a little more Morricone in our musical lives.

Giacchino’s “Full Mayhem” from The Incredibles really struck a chord with younger ears. Gotta love that upbeat brass and jazzy middle beat;  it’s all Pink-Panther meets Mission Impossible.  The kids loved it and the adult’s toes tapped along.

Arguable, the most evocative piece of the night was John Williams’ “Adventures on Earth” from E.T.  Anyone who knows the movie remembers the piccolo’s perfect fifth – that lief motif that underscores the whole movie. Its eeriness guides the narrative from the spooky-esque opening to the ending—when music literally and figuratively lifts viewer’s emotions as ET moves from the earth to home.  Has the piccolo become synonymous with an alien critter?  Few movies have been so subtly underscored–Williams’ grand musical statements stayed with many of the concert goers and there were a few damp eyes.

The programme finished with the finale from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake which has a much faster tempo than I remember – so much so that it sent me scurrying down a rabbit hole when I got home where I learned way too much about the variations of the ballet’s ending.  Yep, it’s one superfast ending considering…well, you need to go there.

The audience didn’t want the night to end and demanded an encore – and QSO obliged, because that’s the kind of people they are — with a really rousing rendition of Strauss’s Radetzky March. A piece, which for some reason, always makes me think of circuses and brass bands. Though not necessarily together.

Look, Superfamous is the perfect introduction to the QSO.  If you missed this year’s concert, then listen to reactions from some audience members on YouTube .

Piano Power is up next.  OMG – QSO is going to treat us to Rachmaninov and Brahms, and I’m particularly excited to hear Lachland Skipworth’s Hinterland –its Queensland premier.  Go to the QSO website to see pianist Behzod Abduraimov rehearsing – seriously, I could watch others work for hours.

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