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The Australian Chamber Orchestra announces a new series of digital releases - ACO ORIGINALS – featuring four world premiere recordings of works commissioned by the orchestra in recent years.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra are known throughout the world for their thrilling and exciting performances of traditional classical repertoire, taking a fresh approach to the old masters like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. At the same time the orchestra have been fearless champions of new music and living composers, commissioning new works that push the boundaries of how an orchestra can and should sound.
Four of these commissions from recent years are now receiving their world premiere releases in the ACO ORIGINALS series, with new music to be released fortnightly beginning Friday, May 29.
The four works chosen – by Samuel Adams, Missy Mazzoli, Olli Mustonen and Brett Dean – showcase the orchestra at their very best and celebrate the sound and personality that the orchestra has developed over the decades since their establishment.
Samuel Adams strived to write something deeply expressive for the musicians to play. “What strikes me about the ACO is the personality of the ensemble,” he says. “They have a wonderful profile when they come on stage. So much of this piece is about exploring interpersonal dynamics. I would be happy if an audience member leaves the concert feeling like they understand something, that they didn’t previously, of the personality of the ensemble.”
Missy Mazzoli’s piece, Dark with Excessive Bright, was commissioned by Principal Bass Maxime Bibeau in celebration of his 20th year with the orchestra. “I was inspired in no small part by Maxime’s double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy’, says Mazzoli. ‘I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibres of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world.’
Olli Mustonen’s Sonata for Cello and Chamber Orchestra was originally composed for cello and piano and dedicated to the great Heinrich Schiff, with this version or chamber orchestra receiving its world premiere in September 2015. Mustonen believes that music should be a spiritual quest, a search for something beyond oneself. ‘Even a good concert can leave you untouched,’ he comments. ‘To become memorable, I feel it should strive for an experience of transformation, the feeling that you have been taken to another world.’
Brett Dean’s Electric Preludes takes inspiration from sources as diverse as the paintings of Australian artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, a rusty, squeaky swing in an abandoned playground and the paintings of Dean’s wife, Heather Betts, with whom he has shared a llong and rich personal and creative partnership. “But the most striking image that fired my fantasy throughout the entire compositional process,” says Dean, “Was that of Richard standing with the ACO, his exotic electric fiddle under his chin, taking mere breaths of sound and embryonic motivic shapes and transforming them, with the help of this impressive piece of electronics and sound designer Bob Scott at the mixing desk, filling the hall and enticing the orchestra’s manifold responses.”
Recorded live in concert during their premiere seasons, this series of four recordings captures the electrifying energy of this remarkable orchestra. In 2020, as the orchestra celebrates 30 years of fearless leadership with ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti, it is fitting that these visionary works are available to listeners worldwide.
Since its establishment in November 1975, the Australian Chamber Orchestra has become one of the world’s most daring and exciting ensembles, renowned globally for its inspired programming, unrivalled virtuosity, energy and individuality, showcased through an extensive and ongoing program of international touring and recordings for many of the world’s top labels.
“The Australian Chamber Orchestra is uniformly high-octane, arresting and never ordinary.” The Australian