The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa have reunited for a glorious blend of Baroque music and circus at the City Recital Hall.
The performance was inspired by the Brandenburg’s ARIA Award-winning CD Tapas, which includes plenty of percussion, guitar and theorbo, and lashings of violin bravado, with music by Albéniz, Merula, Murcia, Martinez and more.
The two special guests were Baroque guitarist Stefano Maiorana from Rome and soprano Natasha Wilson from New Zealand making her Australian debut.
Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz’s choreography astutely blended sensational dazzling solos and breathtaking ensemble routines while always harmonising with the spirit of the music. It was a fluid combination of tumbling, gymnastics, balancing and aerial numbers , in various jaw-dropping sections making you blink and go “ I see it but I don’t believe it“. Dangerous dives, throws and catches were included as well as feats of strength and daring as well as sometimes triple-level human pyramids.The Orchestra sat on a raised platform at the back of the stage, Paul Dyer enthusiastically led as well as playing harpsichord and organ. The Orchestra played passionately; at times flamenco like, with clicking castanets, at other times playing with heartfelt emotion and aching beauty.
Natasha Wilson brought a shiny nuance and delicate subtlety to Tarquino Merula’s aria Su la cetra amorosa which she sang with great clarity .
For the opening third of the program there was a giant pole in the middle of the floor that the performers used. Conor Neall performed an incredible heart stopping pole walking balancing act that had the audience gasping. There was a marvellous aerial act later, to Isaac Albéniz’s Leyenda Asturias which featured an exquisite Caroline Baillon on twisty spider web like ropes.
Vivaldi’s La folia, ravishingly performed by the Orchestra, was an arresting accompaniment to a spectacular trapeze act by Rowan Heydon-White which saw the male Circa performers lunging at her and furiously swinging her in a scene that had dark overtones.
More tranquil pieces, like the Zuola Codex’s Muerto estáis allowed Circa members to use more sculptural, graceful movement ideas.
In another piece a wheelbarrow became a swirling matador’s cape and the Circa members joyously slithered over and under a table with great comic timing and precision.
A little later Billie Wilson-Coffey ascended the silks, suspended above the stage for a transfixing solo to the Catalan song La dama d’Argó.
Kathryn O’Keeffe, performing in a red leotard, showed great skill in a difficult balancing piece.
This performance was an irresistible physical spectacle accompanied by a gripping, haunting soundtrack. An aural and visual feast.
Running time about 90 minutes without interval.
SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA is in performance at the City Recital Hall until May 12 and then ventures on to play seasons in Melbourne and Perth.