The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra's annual "A Feast of Music" festival in Daylesford has not only grown in the number of concerts since its beginning but also in its level of sophistication.
The four concerts in the town hall last weekend provided patrons with performances of the highest calibre of some familiar and much lesser heard music. The latter contained some sparkling gems culminating with Andre Caplet's "Conte Fantastique", a work of great character, depth and excitement for harp and string quartet. Harpist Alice Giles was outstanding in this bravura composition.
The eighteenth century classical style featured prominently on the programs, with Beethoven's much-loved but rarely performed Septet in Eb major Op.20 making up the entire program of the Saturday morning concert. Symphonies of CPE Bach and Haydn in Eb major book-ended the afternoon concert which included Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp K297c. Flautist Prudence Davis equalled Giles' stylish contribution, with both soloists working brilliantly with members of the MCO.
"Yackandandah Music", a recently commissioned work from composer Nicholas Buc, provided some light contrast with its film score orientation and dance character. The performance showed great precision and commitment from the MCO, with director William Hennessy leading with his usual enthusiasm.
The MCO continues to explore repertoire to engage musicians and audiences. This can be seen in the festival's opening work, Arthur Benjamin's rarely performed violin sonatina, with pianist Lucinda Collins and violinist Elizabeth Layton. The first steps to commission a new work, dedicated to Daylesford for 2021, were also set in motion at the festival dinner.