The steam and the warm westerly follow us into the Princess Theatre as the spectacular UQ Big Band leap into the eccentricity and depths of ‘classical music’ and the J-word.
A very well presented, tongue-in-cheek view into the salacious mind of Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart; at once, the most despised and loved composer along the symphonic spectrum.
Mozart was a musical genius engaged in the average ribaldry and shenanigans of his day, and as such, I was not that amazed to hear some of the lewd and lascivious intentions and innuendos common to the courting ritual of the late 18th century.
Here they were presented as collaborative tunes (mash-ups, if you will), using correspondence between Mozart and his younger cousin et objet d’amour, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, some 12 years old. Really, this man was an unmitigated sleazoroid.
The vibrant and immensely talented young musicians of the UQ Big band gave ebullient fanfare and funk sensuality to the life and works of Mozart; marvellous soli from the brass, with all stops and stylistic restrictions removed, groove and power evident in the whole.
The arrangement style of German composer Markus Geiselhart, presented by band leader Clint Allen (Zappa Big Band) really does draw a parallel to one Frank Vincent Zappa, in form of function and in the methods of purveyance, who was also a debauched and sex-crazed lunatic genius. (Frank I mean, not Clint. I don’t know Clint well enough to say.)
As the first set wound through a conventional form of variation in movement and spoken oratorio, we are bound and tied into the big band vibe, with the bulk of symphonic movements being performed in a powerful and progressive style; electric guitar and bass, with large brass and single reed section.
A string quartet and piano continuo fill out the spoken sections, as we hear the debauched and pretty disturbing literary overtures inherent to the Mozart method of pulling the birds.
The second set evoked a rhetoric as if he lived in this day and epoch.
The modern touches are the feature here as they seemingly encapsulate the ethos and drives of a young Mozart; tunes from Wayne Shorter, Justin Timberlake and Sharon Jones brought an analogous insight into the romantic and sensorial motivations of the classical pieces. Drive and groove were abundant, as solid and qualified funk was applied to an already taxing repertoire of bombastic and emotionally powerful music.
The whole show was right on the money, presentation and message-wise, and the players loved what they were doing. Marvellous.
Awesome work, UQ Big band. It got me going, I can tell you.
UQ big Band performed at the Princess Theatre Oct 26