The Age review by Tony Way


3MBS Tchaikovsky Marathon, Melbourne Recital Centre, February 19

Offering exhilaration in place of the exhaustion caused by the lockdown marathon of the past two years, this all-day fundraising event for community radio station 3MBS generously affirmed Melbourne’s wealth of local talent, both established and emerging.

The multi-faceted output of Tchaikovsky was an excellent focus for the 10th annual marathon under the artistic direction of Chris Howlett.

Among the many highlights was a concert of sacred music characterised by vigorous and rhythmically incisive singing from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra chorus under Warren Trevelyan-Jones.

An exquisitely coloured account of The Seasons by pianist Elyane Laussade paid homage to Tchaikovsky’s salon music, as did the incendiary treatment of the finale of the Piano Trio by violinist Tair Khisambeev, cellist Elina Fashki and pianist Kristian Chong, who ignited the smouldering embers of this passionate score.

Tenor Samuel Sakker celebrated the composer’s melodic melancholy with plenty of pathos in None but the lonely heart and Lenski’s aria from Eugene Onegin, while pianist Donald Nicolson revelled in his own outrageous arrangement of the 1812 Overture.

Four chamber music concerts allowed a dozen young artists to showcase their talents across a variety of instrumental, vocal and ballet music; a timely reminder of the important role 3MBS plays in encouraging future generations of musicians.

Crowning the marathon, a concert featuring Corpus Medicorum, an orchestra of healthcare professionals under the baton of Keith Crellin, began with the rather histrionic Hamlet Overture-Fantasia. By contrast, young cellist Charlotte Miles embraced the elegant restraint and good humour of the Variations on a Rococo Theme with keen musical intelligence, assured technique and honeyed tone.

With the fearlessness of youth and his ardent, deep-seated romanticism, charismatic teenage violinist Leon Fei provided a final shot of adrenalin with a stunning account of the Violin Concerto – truly an exhilarating end to a marvellous marathon.

Image of Leon Fei and Corpus Medicorum taken by Keith Burrows