Tony Way
The Age 'Green Guide' (Australia)
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The current exhibition of paintings by Rupert Bunny at the National Gallery of Victoria is a poignant reminder of the beauty and elegance of those wonderful years before World War I known as the Belle Époque. Musically, this period was just as appealing, with its interest in impressionism, romanticism and all things exotic. Roger Benedict, principal viola of the Sydney Symphony, offers a fascinating recital of works by two unjustly neglected composers of the Belle Époque style: the Frenchman Charles Kœchlin and the Belgian Joseph Jongen. Kœchlin’s sonata is a major work; its harmonically adventurous style imparts a kind of mystic quality to the music that is expertly realised by the players. It is also interesting to hear the four small pieces scored for the curious combination of viola, horn and piano. Jongen’s music is more “mainstream” but no less evocative. Of the four works given here, the Introduction et Danse is particularly beautiful, with its pensive beginning and exultant conclusion. Benedict’s sensitivity to the variety of tonal colour required in this repertoire (matched by his accompanists) makes for a very satisfying listening experience.