The Sirius Chamber Ensemble perform Messiaen, Edwards and Beethoven


There are few works with titles as apocalyptic as Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (Quatuor pour la fin du temps) which is one of the works chosen by the Sirius Chamber Ensemble for their May performance. They will also perform Ross Edwards’ Incantations for Wind Quintet and Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio in B flat major opus 11.

The Sirius Chamber Ensemble was formed by Ian Sykes (clarinet), Alison Evans (bassoon), Julia Zeltzer (French horn), Georgina Price (viola), Clare Kahn (cello), and Claire Howard Race (piano).  Their passion is to perform the greatest pieces from the classical chamber repertoire and the latest compositions for woodwinds and strings.

The Quartet for the End of Time is a work with a particularly bleak history. Messiaen was already a recognised composer when World War II erupted. He was conscripted and in May 1940, was captured and imprisoned at Görlitz in Silesia. There, during the winter of 1940–41, he completed this work for himself to play with a violinist, a cellist and a clarinetist also inmates of the camp. Even in these surroundings it was considered an ambitious work. In the eight movements of this extraordinary composition, ‘the end of time’ is depicted as disruptions, variations and irregularities in the development of rhythms and tempi.

Its mid-winter premiere was in the camp, before a huge audience of prisoners.

In contrast, Ross Edwards’ Incantations offers optimism with its themes of life and regeneration. Edwards has described his music as being influenced by ” the natural environment….. a timeless continuum….the supreme generative force behind everything I write”.  (The Australian Music Centre).

Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio opus 11 for clarinet, cello and piano also known as the Gassenhauer has many guises. The clarinet is sometimes replaced by the violin, and the cello by the bassoon. Its popular third movement theme was used by other composers like Weigl, Paganini and von Eybler and is taken from German street songs that were popular at the time (Gasse: ‘street’; hauer:’hit’).

Tickets: Adults $35; Student/Concession $25; Child (12 years and under) $15

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