Soloist Lixsania Fernandez Comes to Australia This Fall

Soloist Lixsania Fernandez Comes to Australia This FallCharismatic Cuban Lixsania Fernandez takes on Baroque tango, & Shaun Lee-Chen enters the Labyrinth... 'easy to enter, difficult to exit'

"I first became a major fan of Lixsania Fernandez when I saw her playing in a monastery at music festival in France last year," says Paul Dyer, the Brandenburg's Artistic Director. "She's a powerful musician with charisma to burn, and I couldn't keep my eyes off her for a second.

"She's vibrant, buoyant, beautiful, and plays this cool instrument with refinement and beauty."

The Cuban musician, who now lives in the Spanish town of Sant Cugat del Valles just north of Barcelona, will make her Australian debut with the Brandenburg in October and November in the concert series Lixsania and the Labyrinth.

Lixsania is a virtuoso and modern-day champion of the viola da gamba, a string instrument with frets played with a bow and placed between the legs (like a cello). It was one of the most popular instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque times but is rarely heard today.

She'll play music by Vivaldi and German composer Johann Graun, as well as something left field for a baroque orchestra - a tango!

The concerto tango was written by Renato Duchiffre in 2001 (a nom-de-plume of Cleveland-based baroque cellist and gamba player René Schiffer) for Baroque orchestra with two viola da gambas taking centre stage.

These instruments, synonymous with the French aristocratic court, lead the band in a sizzling and seductive ten-minute tango, a dance with origins in the brothels and bars of Buenos Aires.

Also in this concert series, the Brandenburg's Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen will take on one of the most challenging of violin concertos, Locatelli's famed and feared 'Labyrinth'. Locatelli himself, whose work profoundly influenced violin playing in the 18th century, inscribed on the manuscript 'Harmonic Labyrinth: easy to enter; difficult to exit'.

Performance details

SYDNEYCity Recital HallWed 31 Oct, Fri 2, Sat 3, Wed 7, Fri 9 Nov at 7PMMatinee Sat 3 Nov at 2PMBOOKINGS:Ph: 1300 782 856 / (02) 9328

MELBOURNEMelbourne Recital CentreSat 10 Nov at 7PMSun 11 Nov at 5PMBOOKINGS:Ph: 1300 782 856 / (02) 9328

Or after 12 noon on Fri 9 NovMelbourne Recital Centre Box OfficePh: (03) 9699 3333

Lixsania Fernandez (Cuba) viola da gamba soloist
Shaun Lee-Chen Baroque violin soloist
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Paul Dyer AO Artistic Director & harpsichord

About the viola da gamb

Although the viola da gamba looks like a cello, it actually belongs to a separate family of instruments, the viols. The instrument is played while being balanced between the legs ('da gamba') , unlike the violin, which was originally called 'da braccio' ('on the arm').

Viols have six strings (sometimes seven or less commonly five) rather than the violin family's four, and are also constructed differently, having a flat back and a fretted neck rather like a guitar. The body of a viol is very lightly constructed of very fine wood.

The method of using the bow is the opposite to that used for a violin or cello. The bow is held underhand, with the palm facing upwards, so the amount of weight applied from the arm is reduced and articulation is more subtle.

Concert program

LOCATELLI Violin Concerto in D 'Il laberinto armonico', Op. 3 No. 12
VIVALDI Concerto for 2 violins & viola da gamba, RV 578
GRAUN Concerto for Viola da Gamba in G Major
VIVALDI Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro, RV 169
DUCHIFFRE Tango from Concerto for 2 Violas da Gamba
(with Anthea Cottee)

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