Epic Visions was a second opportunity for Queenslanders to experience the majesty of the Hungarian violinist Barnábas Kelemen, after he wowed the audience in the Brahms Violin Concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra last year.
In his returning concert, he formed an Epic duo with the handsome Eduardo Strausser, in his Australian debut as the Guest Conductor. Both musicians added a European passion and flair to excite the audience on a journey from Fingal’s Cave in the Outer Hebrides to the Palaces of Vienna.
Barnábas Kelemen performed on a 1742 Guarneri del Gesù violin, previously used by Hungarian Dénes Kovács. He commanded front of stage as his bow frantically flew across the strings and transformed him from concert maestro to Hungarian Gypsy. Sporting a red cummerbund and long coat, you could imagine the flames of the camp fire flickering over his face as the notes soared and waned frenetically.
Eduardo Strausser was reminiscent of Dorian Gray, with chiselled handsome features and floppy hair wearing a tail coat over a thin frame, a starkly contrasting figure in the eclectic, yet effervescent duo. Despite their differences in appearance their skills melded perfectly at the front of the stage as Strausser conducted with vigour, dancing on tip toes to rouse the QSO with the dynamic duo’s energy.
Mendelssohn and the QSO transported the audience to the Outer Hebrides and the dramatic natural columnar wonder of Fingal’s Cave. Strausser formed circular motions with his arms, conducting the orchestra in rhythm to the rise and swell of the waves as they crashed in and out of the cave. You could even hear the drips from the stalactites as you envisioned entering the momentous aperture and exploring a true natural wonder. The energetic conducting by Strausser was a wonder to watch as his body seemed to also swell and wane with each wave.
Kelemen joined Strausser at the front of stage to create a change of pace, and a new vibrant energy from the Epic duo and the music from the QSO placed the audience into the Palaces of Vienna with Mozart’s Concerto No.4. As the music progressed, there was a dichotomy between the frenetic energy when Strausser signalled Kelemen into his solos with a fiery passion, whilst simultaneously stilling the orchestra with a soft wave of the other hand. Kelemen returned the fiery energy in his solos with a ferocity not seen in a violinist since Nigel Kennedy!
The Concert Hall rang as the audience applauded and stamped with an energy and vigour matching that of the Epic Duo. After three returns to the stage from Eduardo Strausser and Barnábas Kelemen, the audience were rewarded with a spectacular technical solo from Kelemen which combined elements of Bach and Mozart into a Hungarian Dance. The audience hungered for more and were thrilled, as he returned again to play another technically complicated solo from Paganini, ending with rapturous applause from the audience, recognising the true magnificence of his technical skills.
The second half maintained the momentum, but of a less frenzied nature with Bruckner’s Symphony No.4 in E flat. Utilising the full potential of the QSO, the music roused then lulled to a soft conclusion finishing in tumultuous applause.
Pairing Barnábas Kelemen with Eduardo Strausser and the versatile QSO was inspirational treating Brisbane to Epic Visions of European passion with breathtaking flair!
If you missed the Epic Visions evening do not fret, ABC Classic FM recorded it to be played on air in the future.
Reviewer - Dr Gemma Regan. Read the original review here.