Top quality musicianship plus some authentic performance’s from Valve and Da Costa.

Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House

June 1, 2014

The Arabian Nights tale of the man who went to Cairo to seek a fortune only to be beaten and robbed and finally find treasure buried in his own backyard must resonate with Australian concert promoters. Our orchestras and opera companies have the clout to attract the most exciting international musicians, but there is also a rich vein of talent on our doorstep, especially when it comes to chamber music.

We’re lucky to have in the Australian Chamber Orchestra what has been hailed by overseas critics as "the best chamber orchestra in the world" and two of its regular members, principal cello Timo-Veikko Valve and harpsichordist Neal Peres Da Costa, featured in the third of the excellent 2014 Utzon Series in the Opera House’s Utzon Room.

Valve swapped the four strings of his 1729 Giuseppe Guarneri for a five-string piccolo cello, held Baroque style between the knees, lending an added air of authenticity to the four JS Bach pieces on the program. Peres Da Costa, playing an Andrew Garlick harpsichord made in Somerset, England, showed why he is in such demand both as a performer and as an educator in Baroque and early music circles.

The program started with the Sonata in G Major BWV1027, one of the so-called church sonatas in four movements written during Bach’s six-year tenure as Prince Leopold’s Kapellmeister in Kothen. Both performers superbly handled the piece, notable for its intricate keyboard passages weaving around the cello’s extended pedal notes. Valve’s piccolo cello featured solo in the Partita in A Minor BWV1013 – a work of three lively dance movements (including a galloping bourrée anglaise finale) and a graceful sarabande.

The top quality musicianship of this duo was highlighted in the next work – the three-movement G Minor sonata with its lively outer movements and a lovely, beautifully realised aria-like adagio. Harpsichord and cello duelled ferociously in the final work, the D Major "church" sonata BWV1028. This went down so well with the audience that the pair were called back for an encore, a reprise of part of the work which started the afternoon.

The Utzon Series returns on Sunday, June 22, with the husband and wife team of Elizabeth and Raphael Wallfisch joined by pianist Benjamin Martin in a program of works by Brahms, Schubert, Stravinsky, Biber and Benjamin Wallfisch.