Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Alexa Still and the Southern Sinfonia at the Glenroy Auditorium, 22 April 2007

A full house came out of a drizzly Sunday to be dazzled by Alexa Still's extraordinary tone, interpretation and control of firstly CPE Bach's Flute Concerto in Dminor, and then Borne's "Fantasie Brilliante sur des Aires de 'Carmen'."

CPE Bach's concerto was wonderful. The mellow sound of the wooden flute blended well with the. The airs and graces, flurries of agitation and the dialogue between orchestra and soloist in the second "Un Poco Andante" and the third movement "Allegro do molto" were delightfully achieved. In quite a different vein, "Fantasie" by Borne (1840-1920) - known primarily for this work - had a great deal of fun with Bizet's most famous work. The adaptation by Chiaramello for flute, further adapted by Alexa Still had all the flamboyance of the Spanish Bizet, with added and unique perhaps technical display, wit and charm resulting in the revitalization of a perennial favourite.

Conductor Luke Dollmann, fresh from a succession of prize-winning performances in Australia and the UK opened the evening with fellow Australian Stanhope's short piece "Spin Dance for Chamber Orchestra". Asymmetrically rhythmic and at times devilish if not quite dervilsh [sic] dancing themes created a narrative between players and perhaps the ducking and diving of the political "spin". Handel's "Water Music" seemed to be propelled by a Hamilton Jet and was over almost before Dollmann realized. His direction of the Haydn "Symphony no 86 in D" showed not only a good acquaintance with the music but a good realization of its alternating extravagant and the naive melodies. A forgiving audience warmed to Dollmann's youthful and occasionally gauche stage etiquette. Alexa Still gave a most appreciative audience an encore of Robert Dick's "Jumping Fish". A fun piece full of heartfelt expression resulted from a combination of the Blues, swing, voicing, and a little jazz. Ultimately the afternoon was won by Still's versatility and technical magic.