Synergy’s battered Baroque syndrome: will Bach’s mighty Chaconne shock on marimba?

It isn’t every day in the classical music world that a concert featuring Bach, Handel and Monteverdi calls for xylophone, two marimbas, three vibraphones, five Korean drums, toy piano, Beijing opera gongs, Sixxen bars and more.

But as Synergy artistic director Timothy Constable points out, “Anyone who’s followed us for a while knows we’re rogues and are always looking to try something new.”

This time, the “something new” sees Australia’s premier percussion group present “old works re-imagined” in their Masterpieces of Timeconcert, an eclectic program ranging from Bach to music by modern iconoclasts John Cage (whose centenary we celebrate in 2012) and György Ligeti, all in new arrangements by Constable and bandmate Bree van Reyk. They have even brought countertenor Tobias Cole into the fold to sing Monteverdi.

But can Bach withstand a beating from Synergy? Constable insists their new readings of revered works like the Chaconne and the cantata Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gottare part of a long tradition stretching back to the Baroque era – in recent years we’ve even heard The Goldberg Variationson accordion. “Composers at that time regularly transcribed their...