Sunday, February 9, 2014


Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Sydney Symphoney Orchestra
photo from Limelight review

Anne-Sophie Mutter made her second visit to Sydney last week an opportunity to celebrate the Mozart Violin Concertos 2, 3 and 5 and give the orchestra the privilege of working sans chef. Is this every orchestra players dream? It was a brilliant success and credit is deserved all round - to her glorious self, to the orchestra alone with themselves, and to W.A.M. - for an especially sophisticated evening of music.

She looked stunning, it always has to be said, and her musicianship with the violin is arguably unparalleled. Her interaction with the orchestra showed a mutual respect of which we should be quite proud. They excelled themselves and the sound from mid stalls (where one sits for music of this genre not to mention Ms Mutter) was most beautiful.

When she had the opportunity, and whenever she felt it necessary, with her lovely arm she would sweep through the melody, encourage this section here, over there now, and occasionally, in the only corrective stance, reign in the dynamics a bit.

On the concertos, she has this to say (from the programme notes) :

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D, K211

"elegant, reflecting the French influence, including the Rondeau finale ... more conventional in every sense compared with the last three."

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K 216

"Alfred Einstein was right to describe the Adagio of K216 as seeming to have fallen straight from heaven - the effect of muted strings was quite new, and gives the entire movement a magical atmosphere, and the Rondeau is much more daring then previous ones. What's more. there's now an equal dialogue bewteen the violin and orchestra, as opposed to the first two concertos, where it's merely a partner in the back-ground. Here Mozart has achieved the ideal shape of the violin concerto."

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K219 (Turkish)

"the crowning achievement is K219 because here Mozart experiments with many new ideas. That is the most daring and multi-layered concerto, full of abrupt emotional changes."

Here she is in a promotional video from the SSO, with some lovely things to say about the orchestra, about Mozart, and particularly about advice to young musicians. It is not that one should try to be a star, one should strive to be a good person. And happily, she speaks of next time.

The question to contemplate as I walk the woods is the relationship between goodness of person and fine musicianship, and vice versa.


Bondi Beach, a mere 15 minute drive from the CBD for those who need some perspective, is the great city beach in a city of endless beaches - tens of Pacific Ocean beaches north and south separated by jagged headlands, harbour beaches of impossible beauty, and beaches along the myriad waterways fingering their way into the bush on which Sydney is built, and burns.

Another favorite Sydney must-do on a gorgeous Sunday morning is the 'Bondi to Bronte' walk. From the southern end of Bondi Beach the path winds around the weathered sand stone cliff face past Tamarama to Bronte Beach. There's the full gamut:  locals, tourists, young, old, fit, wanna-be-fit, regulars, occasionals etc. I haven't included the people for reasons of due propriety, but they are an essential part of the experience.

Some, or one of, the overlooking parks were once gay beats (maybe still are) and the scene of gays being hurled to their death in a shameful period of poofter bashing and wanton gay murders. It hangs somberly over the area for some who know. I didn't tell.

On a more enlightened note, it is also the setting for the hugely successful annual Sculpture By The Sea which had since extended to Perth.

We start above the Ice Bergs Pool (with a posh restaurant on high) and finish half way at Tamarama where K was waiting with the car. Parking is at best part of the fun; at worst a nightmare.

Again, this is a not so little iphone essay which is best looked at by clicking to enlarge and then scrolling through the enlargements by clicking their right or left margin.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


One of the trips we did with Debbie was the old classic - the Manly Ferry. This is a half hour seven mile trip along and across the harbour which gives a good perspective on the city and harbour landscapes, and you get to see the Opera House as it is best seen - from the water.

If you're not yet sick of seeing photographs of the Sydney Opera House, you will be by the time go get through this. But there is strong link between Manly and the Opera House. It was at Manly that the native man Bennelong was first seen, and the area was given the name of his stance. And it was Bennelong Point, where he had chosen to live after being embraced by the white man, that would be the site of the great iconic building.

We boarded in the afternoon, spent a few hours wondering around, had fish and chips and a glass of wine, and came back in the evening with the sun behind the city and the lowering light catching the tiled sails.

As usual, click the photos to enlarge for further detail (all iphone snaps I'm afraid) and if you click on the right hand side of the enlargement, you will scroll to the right through the photos, and likewise in reverse.

There's always a big cruise ship in at this time of year. Here comes our ferry.

Coming back in the late afternoon past the heads which is where the ferries to and from usually cross.

Rounding middle head with the city and the lowering sun to the west.

Here comes that building.

And now the sun is behind us as we swing into the Quay.

And home again. Cup of tea? Another glass? Thai for dinner again?

Saturday, February 1, 2014


It was love at first sight. Dogs know.

Names and places withheld to protect the guilty.

As usual, click to enlarge for increased detail.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I'm more inclined to the Invasion Day school of thought. Should I live long enough to be witness to some political and national maturity then I will celebrate Republic Day.

Meantime, we have swapped glorious days of this (Tamarama - aka Glamarama - Beach)

for a cool change in the Highlands where lower temperatures and the humidity mean some lovely lingering mists.

In other news, some fame just never fades

and the Goanna has been doing the rounds.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The Sydney run of Sasha Waltz's Dido and Aeneas is in its last night tonight. The reception has been mixed, but mainly positive and occasionally enthusiastic. And I say 'Sasha and Purcell' because it really revolves around Purcell's extended score, which is quite delicious, and the dance. This is dance with singing, not singing with dance.

I don't remember too many Didos in Sydney but that said, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs did it last year with the luscious Fiona Campbell and now I especially regret not going. Nor did I go to Joan Sutherland's first concert in Sydney when aged 21 (1947) she sang Dido. So there's form in this town.

In a penny pinching move, I'd chosen seats on the side in the stalls about six rows from the front forgetting what a poor theatre the Lyric is for live unamplified music and voice. So poor that they had to resort to amplifying the orchestra, the Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin beautifully directed by Christopher Moulds. We were just in front of a speaker!

The balance was skewed and the voices further subjugated to the dance. Never mind. What can't be cured etc and certainly nothing needed to be endured, not by me at least. There was a bit of a cuffufle on opening night apparently with someone calling out 'what has this got to do with opera' before leaving. Well, it did say it was by Sasha Waltz and she is a choreographer, and the marketing was driven by photos of swimmers in a tank of water (hard to sing underwater) so most were ready for anything, and hoping for a bit of German naughtiness too I expect. They did get some nice botties and a flash of  breasts.

So the story was told in dance, and while broad brushes of action were accessible, a lot of detail I think was lost in the wonder of just what was going on. No surtitles and no ready libretto didn't help. K found one, the only one we saw all night,  on a lonely seat as we entered. There should have been a libretto in the programme. The poetry is beautiful. Sings Dido:

                                            Thus on the fatal Banks of Nile
                                            Weeps the deceitful Crocodile
                                            Thus Hypocrites that Murder Act
                                            Make Heaven and Gods the Authors
                                            of the Fact

The vocals were quite lovely, and I say in all honesty that Deborah York's wide eyed Belinda was pure and honest and of the simplest most satisfying beauty full of innocent charm.

It was in the end terrific theatre. I loved it and was quite entranced if not ever really deeply emotionally engaged.

The Vocal Consort Berlin was a fine chorus, noticeably when they sang from the stalls right next to us with the sound you wished for all night.

                                            The pictures are by Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival from various sources.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


One of the lovely things about having a visitor is getting to do and see things long taken for granted. As we extended the sight-seeing into the late afternoon, we found ourselves at Watsons Bay and South Head. That's on your left as you sail into Sydney Harbour.

Storm clouds still hung over the city but were breaking to the east as we rounded the point to see the great Pacific Ocean disappear over the horizon.

Looking back to the city from Camp Cove as sea gulls lark and divers take a lesson ...

Walking up high now ...

On past Lady Jane Beach, another gorgeous (and nudist) little harbour beach as the sun was breaking through ...

Coming upon the georgian Lighthouse Keepers Cottage glimpsing the Manly Ferry heading to Manly (seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care) ...

The two Km stretch across to North Head in the entrance to Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson) ...

All watched over by an old gunnery and the 1858 Hornby Lighthouse ...