One of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s superpowers is its use of expert musicians from all over Australia (and beyond) for its core ensemble. In the time of COVID-19 travel restrictions, however, its superpower became its kryptonite, with key members, including its concertmaster, Shaun Lee-Chen, based in WA, unable to participate. Now, in the first subscription concert for 2021, the band is back together at last, and Lee-Chen takes a leading role.
The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra performing Handel’s Rome. Photograph © Keith Saunders
The program opens with two Concerto Grossi from early baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli. The original is scored for string instruments and continuo but for this occasion Paul Dyer, Artistic Director of the Brandenburgs, has roped in two trumpets to give the upper strings a brassy edge, and a sackbut and bassoon to amp up the bass. It works well, giving the opening of Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op. 6 No 4 a regal gloss, and driving the motor rhythms along with punchy energy. Against this, the string principals shine out like liquid gold.
Sandwiched in between the two Corelli works...