Akin to Kentucky Diva racing away and streeting the field 

By Chris Mineral

The sun is over the yardarm at The Scots Church, Collins and Russell streets. Inside there’s a piano quartet ready to play. The Emerald Hill Quartet (EHQ), the smoothest of smooth. 

On the menu, it’s Brahms Piano Concerto No 1, G Minor Opus 25. Hamburg musician Johannes Brahms saw the world premiere in 1861 of Opus 25, just days after Archer had won the first ever Melbourne Cup. Ferdinand Mueller was the director of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

The EHQ are Liam Osborne (violin), Alexander MacDonald (viola), Jeremy Garside (cello) and Sine Winther (piano).

They have devoted considerable time researching the historical approach and context of Brahms’s music. Opus 25 has a droning feel in the first movement, in 4 4 time, Allegro (G minor). Of the five themes, the fifth is most exciting (multo animato).

The EHQ were spirited and precocious. The third movement, Andante con Moto has loads of themes and ideas in slow time. The EHQ sounded phenomenal – finding depth and distinct intimations of warmth. Folky, catchy rhythms, with an undercurrent of Gypsy good humour. Counterbalanced of course by a true Germanic sense of humanity.

The much-anticipated and heralded brisk crescendo to conclude the fourth movement, IV Rondo alla Zingarese: Presto (G minor) arrived in a brilliant, exhilarating style akin to Kentucky Diva racing away and streeting the field in scintillating fashion in race six at Sandown on the first Sunday in August. Bravo EHQ.

On 3RRR Breakfasters program, chiming in with a great song called Native Tongue was Wiradjuri musician Mojo Juju. Jupiter’s moons are aligned perhaps for Mojo as she tours Australia promoting her third album Native Tongue (ABC Music/Universal) and is garnering great reviews.

People are touched by the music of Mojo Juju, and Native Tongue chronicles her family’s stories and relationships.

Soulful and strident with a beautiful choral background reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, Mojo Juju’s music is an amalgam of the past, present and future of Wiradjuri culture.

Mojo feels lucky to be able to tell her story, her Radio National interview is worth checking out.

She just concluded a sold-out season at the Fairfax Studio at The Victorian Arts Centre performing songs from Native Tongue. Transient creature Mojo Juju, she is happening and doing great with plenty of time in forever. She does a chilling version of The Beasts’ Psycho – sweet return to Znitzki. Get to know Mojo.

Great historical guitars are on display in a new exhibition showcasing Maton Guitars at the Australian Music Vault (AMV) at The Arts Centre.

Maton, a Melbourne guitar manufacturer producing high-quality, hand-crafted guitars, celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016.

Dragon’s April Sun In Cuba was written on a Maton. As was The Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind.

Tommy Emmanuel’s 1963 Maton Mastersound MS 500 is one of the many highlights. The AMV is worth repeated visits. There is so much music, stories, history and memorabilia to enjoy.

Well-credentialed Berta Brozgul concluded her piano recital at the Australian National Academy Music (ANAM) HQ with French composer Olivier Messiaen’s Regard de l’Eglise d’amour from Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jesus (1944).

Having gone through the grades at Salzburg specialising in Mozart, Berta produced a winning performance. Berta attacked the first section with gusto. The ferocity, passion and velocity reminded me of The Mark Of Cain at their peak. From another world. Magnifique!

Messiaen thought that the birds were the greatest musicians to inhabit our planet.

As the music progressed, sudden grand spaces appeared, interspersed with superb descending augmented chord changes. Berta’s timing was impeccable. A thrilling performance.

One great band in Melbourne are Heinous Hounds. They slayed the crowd at the Cherry Bar on Sunday, August 12. On this occasion , the saxophonist Sid Preece (Cat Empire) was welcomed on stage and his playing fitted hand-in-glove with the Hounds’ sound. Preece is very lockjaw and rough-hewn. His tone is sometimes like Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band.

They played a great version of the Dylan song Everybody Wants to get Stoned. Closer was a killer version of I Put A Spell On You. Worth considering.

Under blue lighting gels at ANAM HQ was The Turner Trio (TT). They commenced their recital wearing masquerade masks looking like Zorro.

TT, consisting of Eliza Shepherd (flute), Liam Meany (cello) and Alexandra Waite (piano/harpsichord), utilised inventive instrumentation techniques with the cello tuned scordatura, the piano strings played with paper clips, a chisel and glass rods. John Cage would have approved.

Gigs/Shows

  • Chris Wilson Benefit, Corner Hotel, August 24
  • Sunday Arvos in September, Cherry Bar Blues Sessions, AC/DC Lane, CBD
  • The Good, The Dub, The Global, Systa BB, Tuesday, 2pm, 3RRR
  • Courtney Barnett, Festival Hall, September 1
  • All Our Stories, Jess and Leah, Mondays, 1pm, 3PBS
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Forum Theatre, September 12
  • Olivia Newton John, Her Majesty’s Theatre, September 14
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