(The Age)

Nevermind Review

(Articles & Program Notes)
Published – 17.11.2019
(Writing)

Historically Informed Performance Practice (or HIPP, for those in the know) is a somewhat divisive part of the classical music world. There are those who love the idea of Bach played exactly how Bach would have played it himself, and others who feel as if this curtails the independence of their own interpretation. Generally speaking, HIPP or not, I’m not rushing out to see Baroque music - it’s never been my cup of tea - but there was something that intrigued me about French early music ensemble Nevermind, presented in Melbourne by Musica Viva and Melbourne Festival. The denim-clad, hair-tossing group of twenty-somethings bucks the trends that so often turn new audiences away from classical music: they wear civvies rather than the familiar suit and tie, they speak eloquently but amiably about their music, and they ooze unbridled enthusiasm about their work. The first half of the program - a selection of works by Marais and Couperin - passed more or less without fanfare for me; the pieces drawn from an era that has never spoken to my contemporary taste, but on return from the interval, the going really got good. I was really sold by the repertoire of the second half: works by Telemann, Quentin, Guillemain. Historically, by the time quartet writing reached Telemann, the whole style had developed significantly: each player was given their own distinct part, and the music, as a result, became more absolute, compared to the genial court-music that came before. With this “new” quartet taking the reins, Nevermind came completely alive, and their performance, despite the date of composition, felt new, well-paced and gripping.

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