Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House
August 11, 2018

Bathed in soft, golden light, the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room felt particularly cosy and intimate on Saturday evening for the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Schubert Songs, the creaking from the Man O’ War Wharf adding to the haunting ambience stoked by a concert shot-through with the spectre of death.

Australian baritone David Grecowas master of ceremonies, guiding the audience through a program that saw Schubert’s songs interspersed with movements from Félicien David’s 1837 Les Quatre Saisons– a set of 24 miniature string quintets – giving the evening a pleasant, cabaret feel, backed by the small period instrument band. Violinist Simone Slattery led the quintet (replacing Skye McIntosh, who withdrew due to a family bereavement), with Rafael Font on violin, James Eccles on viola, James Bush on cello and Jacqueline Dosser on double bass. While the slated Rosamunde Quartet was cut, this was nonetheless a rich and satisfying concert.

Greco was a charming host, weaving the stories behind Schubert’s lieder – both their own narratives and the social and political environment in which they were composed – into his performance. He opened the concert with Schubert’s Die Götter Griechenlands, his rich baritone filling the space snugly and his...