Neopolitan delights with strings attached

19 March 2017 Blogger in Chief

There’s always a lot of talk, as the days shorten, about the season ahead; ins and outs, prospects to watch. But here’s a tip for you: get along to experience Van Diemen’s Band before too long and you’ll be able to say you had them marked down early for great things.

Van Diemen’s Band (VDB) is like one of those clever suitcases that expands and contracts to accomodate your needs: I counted 10 players from my vantage point, off to the side, and I understand the group is sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, depending on what music is on the program.

Today it was composers from Naples – so no Vivaldi – and the dazzling virtuoso cellist Catherine Jones. Jones is Australian but lives in Italy (clearly, practise pays off) and her playing was accomplished.

But then, all the playing was accomplished.

With a program of pieces at least 250 years old, many of which were likely played for the first time in Australia, there is a potential for things to become a little ‘samey’ but today’s setlist was perfectly paced and the pieces that featured Jones absolutely zinged.

The DVB members smile a lot when they perform and, while I know it shouldn’t matter, there’s something extra appealing about seeing people love what they’re doing when what they’re doing is so enjoyable. No wonder the applause between pieces grew in both length and volume through the 70-minute program.

And what a rare treat to get chamber music played in a chamber, rather than a concert hall. The chamber, in this case, was in the old Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Launceston’s Royal Park and it was well-suited to such lively music delivered – as they say in Naples - con spirito.