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Review: Chamber Landscapes

Adelaide Festival

The opening night of Chamber Landscapes at Ukaria Cultural Centre was a rare and unforgettable experience, writes reviewer Greg Elliott.

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Chamber Landscapes is a series of nine chamber music concerts curated by Anna Goldsworthy and performed in the magnificent Ukaria Cultural Centre just out of Mount Barker.

Ukaria’s grand concert room, with its beautiful timbers and high ceiling, provide us with an opportunity to experience a presentation of art songs as Schubert himself may have done with a group of friends.

In Over the Brow of the Hill, a large glass window offered a beautiful vista of the Australian bush while Calvin Bowman played his own exquisite compositions to South Australian poetry as sung by superb soprano Miriam Gordon-Stewart.

Bowman’s music captures the heart and soul of the bush: rolling rivers, farmsteads, winds, paddocks of flowers, birds in flight, storms and stillness. The sun was literally setting as Gordon-Stewart sang of the stars spilling from the night.

Then we were treated to two renowned Australian artists who mostly perform in Europe: Anthony Romaniuk played Winterreise with sensitivity and dexterity, while tenor Steve Davislim sang the words of Wilhelm Muller’s poems with tremendous power and beauty.

Both men were immersed in the emotion of the work, which grapples with Schubert’s failing grasp on life and his feelings of desolation. Davislim’s performance was mesmerising: it was a rare opportunity to be so close to such brilliance. His imagination and performance skills conveyed memories of a former sweetheart, snow on his face, weariness, joy, reflecting on a dream and his desire to “travel a road from which no one ever returned”.

Everything about Chamber Landscapes is world-class, making it a rare and unforgettable experience.

Other concerts in the series will feature opera singer Deborah Cheetham, yidaki player William Barton and the Australian String Quartet. In the unique setting of the Ukaria Cultural Centre, they too should be exceptional.

It is marvellous to have some Adelaide Festival productions outside of the Adelaide CBD.  Chamber Landscapes is a series of concerts of breathtaking beauty.

The Chamber Landscapes program continues at Ukaria Cultural Centre until March 14.

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