The Australian period ensemble brings its expertise to Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoire.

With audience favourites and some rarities, Ironwood’s newly announced 2017 season is devoted to three centuries of chamber music. In its tenth year of performance, the Australian period ensemble continues its keen exploration of repertoire from the Renaissance to late-Romantic era over four exciting programmes.

Ironwood. Photo: supplied

Kicking off proceedings, Season 1 investigates music from the stylus fantasticus era of seventeenth-century Europe. Entitled The Poetic and the Fantastic, the programme surveys the richly imaginative works of Schmelzer, Biber and Becker. Schmelzer, the composer associated for much of his career with the Hapsburg court in Vienna, developed a string technique that influenced later European masters like Biber and Bach. The ensemble performs Schmelzer’s Sacro-profanus concentus musicus, and the famous homage composed after the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdininad III, the Lamento sopra il morte Ferdinandi III. Biber’s Balletti provides insight into the imagination of a most innovative composer, while Becker’s Sonata No 3 and Pavan are rare treats, among the most rich and inventive of the seventeenth century.

Season 2 sees Ironwood continue its exploration of Schumann and Brahms, two composers whose output parallels each other stylistically. The programme takes a look at the development of the nineteenth century German string and piano style – Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat is arguably the first work for piano and strings that revolutionised the form in the Romantic era. The Quintet is complemented by Brahms’ Piano Trio in C, produced at the height of the composer’s powers. Brahms himself recognised the quality of his piece, reportedly saying to his publisher: “you have not yet had such a beautiful trio from me and very likely have not published its equal in the last ten years”.

Season 3 is sure to be popular, with performances of Classical-era string quartets by Mozart, Graf and Haydn. Audiences will have the chance to hear these works played on gut strings, with the ensemble’s commitment to historically informed practices. Alongside Mozart’s String Quartet K 157 in C and Haydn’s String Quartet Op 77 No 2 in F, Season 3 offers a musical rarity in Graf’s String Quartet No 4, a melodically inventive piece.

Ironwood’s final season for 2017 mines the proto-Romantic style of Schubert and Beethoven, with a rare performance of Anton Eberl’s Piano Quintet. Little heard in Australia, Eberl was a student of Mozart and celebrated as a piano virtuoso throughout Europe. His Piano Quintet is charming and stylistically daring, heralding the advent of Romanticism and paving the way for heavyweights like Schubert. The latter’s early String Quartet D 94 heads the programme, composed when he was merely 15 years of age. Although much of his early work was intended for small household concerts, this piece already hints at Schubert’s love of experimentation, with unexpected key relationships and new string effects like tremolo. A selection of Beethoven’s Bagatelles for solo piano round out a satisfying night of music making.

Tickets to Ironwood’s 2017 season can be found here

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