Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville Civic Theatre
August 2, 2018

There was a celebratory air to Gypsies, Pipers and Dukes, which capped off the seventh day of the Australian Festival of Chamber Musicin Townsville. Delving into folk music’s influence on ‘art’ music, this was a wide-ranging and joyous mingling of musical cultures in a program packed with festival flair.

Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and double bassist Kees Boersma kicked off proceedings with British composer Roxanna Panufnik’s Hora Bessarabia. Panufnik – who has a new commission at this year’s Last Night of the Proms at Royal Albert Hall in September – wrote Hora Bessarabiaas a solo violin piece for the 2016 Menuhin Competition (it’s inspired by Yehudi Menuhin’s love of Eastern European Gypsy music). This new version, which received its Australian premiere last night, includes a double bass part, fleshing out the piece’s range with some low-register muscle. While Sitkovetsky and Boersma were whisper quiet in the opening, the music soon unfurled in chant-like melodies, eventually reaching a climax of foot-stamping energy, Boersma’s bass propelling the music under Sitkovetsky’s fierce fiddling.

AFCM, Australian Festival of Chamber Music Tine Thing Helseth and Timothy...