MUSIC DANIELLE DE NIESE 4/5 Australian Chamber Orchestra Melbourne Town Hall, June 17 and 18
HOME-GROWN soprano Danielle de Niese's high local profile dates from her younger years' victory in Young Talent Time. These days, she makes a very attractive proposition in presentation and (more importantly) technical accomplishment, quality of timbre and clear relish in the practice of her craft. On Sunday, with the Australian Chamber Orchestra under Richard Tognetti, she gave the Melbourne premiere of Carl Vine's setting of the closing pages to Patrick White's The Tree of Man, generated a rich colour for Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate, and demonstrated an interpretative breadth in Schubert's Death and the Maiden , serving as a prelude to Tognetti's arrangement of the composer's eponymous string quartet.
Vine's setting is a congenial and calm scena that is a gift for this singer's voice, one that she embraced with clear conviction, a rare clarity of textual articulation and a generous amplitude that graced a score that requires little virtuosity. Matters changed for the Mozart motet, which is packed with ornament and rapid-moving high spirits. Here, de Niese's vocal quality surprised for its carrying power and a richness to her middle and lower registers, particularly in the slow Tu virginum aria. The book-end semiquaver flights came across without the usual spikiness and robotic precision, de Niese giving clear character to Mozart's athletic, all-too-familiar concluding Alleluia.
Apart from an engrossing reading of the Schubert quartet, the ACO performed Richard Meale's Cantilena Pacifica, notable only for a languid solo from Tognetti, and the brief La finta giardiniera Mozart Symphony in D.