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REVIEW: "Domestic bliss as musical couple share classical solace" ★★★1/2 (THE AGE)

"The players exploited a kaleidoscopic variety of timbres, revelling in Dean’s energetic, visceral writing, as well as moments of plaintive tenderness".


By Tony Way

November 1, 2020 — 12.45pm

LLOYD VAN’T HOFF & ZOE FREISBERG MINIATURES★★★1/2 Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, October 31

As Melbourne musicians return to giving concerts after lockdown, audiences have been reminded that music, like charity, begins at home.



Performers have had to maintain morale and technique in their own homes, and current government restrictions limit stage appearances to soloists or members of the same household. Unusual programs such as this one by Arcadia Winds clarinetist Lloyd Van’t Hoff and violinist Zoe Freisberg (who are 'real life', as well as musical partners) have resulted.

It was a rare opportunity to explore domestic music making with a selection of musical gems the pair said brought them solace throughout the year. Locked down no longer and back on the Athenaeum stage, Van’t Hoff and Freisberg were able to premiere a gift from composer and clarinetist Paul Dean. In the seven pithy cameos of Lockdown Miniatures No. 2, Dean artfully distils pandemic emotions; whether it be a frenzied fight over toilet paper, the sad longing induced by quarantine separation or the need for diverting fun. Equal to the challenge of vividly and convincingly evoking these fleeting scenes, the players exploited a kaleidoscopic variety of timbres, revelling in Dean’s energetic, visceral writing, as well as moments of plaintive tenderness.

A classical-style duo by Georg Fuchs opened proceedings, followed by works of Bartok and Sibelius. Yielding reasonable aural rewards, this eclectic selection probably gave greater pleasure to the players than the listeners. By contrast, Lachlan Skipworth’s engaging Partita for Solo Clarinet revealed Van’t Hoff to be a technical and expressive master of his instrument.

Van’t Hoff and Freisberg ably demonstrated the sustaining power of home music making, but also reminded us that music, like charity, is best when it reaches far beyond home.

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©2020 by Lloyd Van't Hoff. 
Images by Cameron Jamieson and Keith Saunders