On The Town Music Review: The Marais Project presents – A Christmas Adventure

Sunday 17th December 2017 at The Independent Theatre, North Sydney.

A recent festive season highlight was the last in a series classical music concerts and afternoon teas at The Independent Theatre, North Sydney. This double delight served as a launch as well for the The Marais Project’s latest CD Spinning Forth. Jennifer Eriksonn, Founder and Director says that their 6th CD draws together the threads of their original purpose- of playing all of Marin Marais’ music for viola da gamba. Marais (1656-1728) is a composer I am not so familiar with and I delight in my new found knowledge that his compositions carry all the hallmarks of the French Baroque. The first half of the concert also included works by Charpentier, Dandrieu and their Italian precursor Monteverdi in this concert’s French Christmas section.

Eriksonn has arranged many of the French pieces on the bill and the second half emphasised her other passion for her ensemble of musicians. She states that she wants to avoid getting stuck in an “early music ghetto” hence her desire to commission new works and expose treasures from other music cultures for these middle period instruments. Therefore the CD and the concert also focused on Swedish music in a very fine second Christmas bracket of totally unknown music to me with work by Hjort Anders Olsson (1865-1952) along with a sensational Italian item by Tarquino Merula (1595-1665)- Canzonetta Spirituale sopra alla nanna. The concert was capped off by Latin American fiesta music by Ariel Ramirez as well as Carlos Carabajal and The Rios Brothers.

The Marais Project though is not a “one person band” and many of Eriksson’s regular collaborators played as well as arranged certain items: Emily-Rose Sarkova- versatility par excellence: voice, piano accordion, bandoneon and arrangement for Suite in E minor (Marais). Tommie Andersson arranged Olsson’s Min levnads afton and is regarded as a specialist in lutes and early guitars. Susie Bishop an accomplished musician (violin) also simultaneously sang up a storm of rollicking yuletide song and then conversely, touchingly delicate vocals.  Excellent support was supplied by Shaun Ng on theorbo and Steve Elphick on double bass both with a commanding stature and presence.

The program for the 2018 Sunday Series of A Prelude in Tea is out now- so get along some time soon,  especially for their very abundant afternoon tea. The gloriously fitted out Independent Theatre also offers many other music and song series at very affordable prices. A highly recommended adventure.

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