Journey through musical fairytales

Heavenly horns (and a piano) graced the stage of the Harold Lobb theatre at the Newcastle Conservatorium for the launch of the Newcastle Musica Viva International concert series on Friday, February 23.

Virtuoso German clarinettist Sabine Meyer teamed with the acclaimed Alliage Quintett for a program of orchestral favourites.

Entitled Fantasia, the performance featured a  journey through musical fairytales that included Bernstien (arr Sobol) - Overture to Candide, Dukas (arr Schottstädt) - The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Shostakovich (arr Atovmyan) - Prelude & Gavotte (from Five Pieces), Milhaud (arr Pottmeier) - Scaramouche, Stravinsky (arr Gottschick) - The Firebird, Shostakovich (arr Atovmyan) - Waltz, Elegy & Polka (from Five Pieces) and  Borodin (arr Gassot/Pépin) - Polovtsian Dances (Prince Igor).

Light-hearted and accessible, but seriously skilled at the same time, It was fun, fascinating and fabulous.

Ms Meyer is recognised the world over as a giant of the clarinet and a pioneer female force in classical music, having stepped back from her position in the Berlin Philharmonic many years ago to go it alone.

Over the past 25 years she has toured the world extensively and given hundreds of solo concerts.

The quintett featuring four saxaphones and a piano delivers a wind-powered twist on traditional chamber music.

Minimal in number, Daniel Gauthier (soprano sax), Hayrapet Arakelyan (alto saxophone), Simon Hanrath (tenor saxophone), Sebastian Pottmeier (baritone saxophone) and Jang Eun Bae (piano), combine to create a sound almost orchestral in nature.

There’s nothing quite like a great horn section in full flight, brought into beautiful relief by rhythmic cascades of the grand.

The physicality required to fire up these instruments for over an hour is evident live, and underscores the power and nuance, all coming from within.

The evening concluded with a crowd-pleasing rendition of the Bernstien classic, America.

All up an intimate, absorbing, and at times rollicking evening of wind instrumentality (and piano), kicking off what promises to be yet another great Newcastle Musica Viva International concert series.

The next performance will be April 12 when Newcastle hosts   mandolin master Avi Avital and the energetic young Giocoso String Quartet presenting masterworks old and new.