Artspace, Sat Jun 21
Into Oblivion features two Australian musicians of exceptional calibre: concert pianist Ambre Hammond and accordionist extraordinaire Marcello Maio – playing in intimate cabaret mode to the tables and mood lighting of the Artspace.
The duo play every track from Oblivion, their recent album of songs mainly by Astor Piazzolla (with the single exception of his famous Libertango, much to the chagrin of the gentleman sitting behind me), and a selection of musical pieces in a similar vein.
What is basically a classical music recital transforms effortlessly into this cabaret setting due largely to Hammond’s affinity with the audience. She is the classic raconteur with many amusing stories to tell, often at Maio’s expense. Marcello barely gets a word in, but we suspect he’s content with that. Being World Cup season this pair of football tragics of mixed European heritage has much to bait each other about.
They also provide a visual feast, with Hammond prowling around the keyboard with a knowing stylishness, and Maio gently coaxing every nuance from his beloved accordion.
But the star of the evening is always the music. Each piece has been meticulously chosen, and provides an isolated moment of musical bliss. Although advertised as an evening of Astor Piazzolla, they cast their nets further a field to include Debussy’s Beau Soir and Jacob Gade’s popular tango Jealousy, both of which feature on the CD. They also play a song by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, to be included on a forthcoming release.
Each in turn plays a haunting solo piece, showcasing the finesse and prowess of the individual musician. But the magic of the evening comes from the fact that they work so well together, and clearly enjoy doing so.
The show concludes with the beautiful and complex Piazzolla song Oblivion, a standout moment in an evening that has had no ordinary moments. A superb way to end what has been a great Cabaret Festival.
by Adrian Miller