★★★★☆ An engaging soirée Française underneath the Southern Cross.

A&I Hall, Bangalow
August 14, 2015

A stellar line-up of international artists has – along with audiences from around the country – made the pilgrimage to this year’s Bangalow Music Festival. This opening concert of the festival was about French things. Creative Director (and resident oboist) Tania Frazer has a tendency to programme by theme, with blithe disregard for continuity of ensemble. This results in both exciting and ‘bitsy’ programming. If I had attended one concert only, I think it would have felt fragmented. But by seeing a suite of concerts across the festival, there is a consistency. It is also a welcome and recurring feature of Frazer’s programming to hear unfamiliar works from known (or unknown) composers.

John Rotar’s arrangement of Ravel’s La Valsewas true to the original and ingeniously preserved the backbone of the music. It didn’t sound exactly like Ravel’s chamber music: the process of reducing complex and sumptuous orchestration to one or two representative instruments of each section results in a somewhat square version of the piece. It was still great fun to listen to, and the players of Southern Cross Soloists pulled it off with...