News / Arts

Beethoven festival is back with nine concert program

Festival runs over two parts from February 6 to 24

The Gryphon Baryton Trio will perform at Tempo Rubato on February 20. 

Mark Phillips

A PERFORMANCE featuring a rare 18-string instrument and the return of classical guitarist Massimo Scattalin are among the highlights of the 16th Brunswick Beethoven Festival which begins next week.

As in previous years, the program is split into two parts separated by a fortnight, with four concerts in each part.

Part one will open on Tuesday, February 6, with a performance by the Melbourne-based Invictus Quartet at the Brunswick Uniting Church. It will continue until February 10.

Get more stories like this delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

HTML Button Generator

Festival director Mark Higginbotham said a highlight of the first week will be the return from Treviso in Italy of Scattolin, who will perform 12 pieces including four he has composed himself during previous visits to Australia.

Scattalin developed his technique under the tutelage of the great Andres Segovia and plays a “lattice braced guitar” made by the Italian luthier Enzo Guido.

“He’s been coming backwards and forwards to Australia for years and is an old favourite of the festival but hasn’t been here since 2020 because of COVID so it’s good to have him come back,” Higginbotham said.

In the second part of the festival, which runs from February 20 to 24, the program includes the Gryphon Baryton Trio at Tempo Rubato on February 22.

The trio has been formed around Laura Vaughan, who plays the baryton, an unusual 18-string instrument that dates back to the 17th century.

Based on the tuning of a viola da gamba, in addition to seven strings that are played with a bow, the baryton also has another 11 steel strings that can be plucked simultaneously.

Higginbotham said the baryton was a key feature used in dozens of compositions by Joseph Haydn which were commissioned by his patron, Hungarian Prince Nikolaus Esterhazyin, the 18th century.

“It’s an instrument that went out of existence until recently when they resumed making them in Germany,” Higginbotham said.

“It’s a big instrument and it’s got a deeper and more mellow sound, and it’s very beautiful. There’s a huge amount of interest in this instrument because it’s so unusual.”

Vaughan has formed a trio with Katie Yap on viola and Brunswick resident Josephine Vains on cello. They will play four Haydn compositions.

The festival will conclude as in recent years with a performance by the former artistic director of the festival, Sergio de Pieri, who is now aged 91.

Higginbotham has also added a fifth performance to the second part after securing the talents of keyboardist Anthony Halliday who will appear at the Christ Church in Glenlyon Road on February 21.

“It’s going to be a two part program – the first half on the organ in the church and the second half on a piano in the hall,” Higginbotham said.

Despite its name, the Brunswick Beethoven Festival is not restricted to performances of the works of its namesake, German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, but he does feature prominently in each year’s program.

The festival was first held in 2006 out of a desire to provide good quality classic music at a reasonable price for audiences in the inner north.

The full festival program is available on the Brunswick Beethoven Festival website

Latest stories: