Hamer Hall, Melbourne
February 4, 2018

For its opening concert of 2018, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and its Artistic Director Richard Tognetti proved they’re at the forefront of musical innovation, balancing the familiar with the new in a program featuring two classical favourites, complemented by two contemporary works, both by women, one of them a world premiere.

The Australian premiere of US-based, London-born Anna Clyne’s Prince of Cloudssaw two of the ACO’s violinists, Ike See and Glenn Christensen, take solo roles in an extended meditation on musical lineage. Clyne’s work contrasted opposing states of floating lyricism and crunching dissonance, seeing the soloists’ rhapsodic offerings rise above a surging ensemble texture, before being swallowed up in turn.

Following this striking opening statement, the ACO delivered a mainstay in the string orchestral repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s beloved Serenade for Strings in C. Tognetti’s direction of this heartfelt work was full of shape and nuance, with the ensemble’s infectious personality shining forth throughout. From the reverential opening, through the second movement’s sparkling waltz and third movement elegy, to the spritely finale on a Russian theme, the performance was charismatic, expressive, and fresh.

The second contemporary work came in the form of a rare beast – a concerto...