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Mozart Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major

Watch Melissa Farrow, Rafael Font, Marianne Yeomans and Anton Baba perform Mozart's Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K 285 in this new performance for Brandenburg One.

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PROGRAM NOTES

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K 285

History records Mozart as having an ambivalent relationship with the flute. While he wrote many marvelous parts for the instrument in his symphonies, concertos, and operas, he is often quoted from a letter to his father saying he could not stand the instrument while explaining away his incapacity to complete an important commission:

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Herr [Dejean]…paid me only 96 gulden since I don’t have more than two concertos and three quartets ready for him…The fact that I could not finish the assignment can easily be explained. I never have a quiet hour around here. I can’t compose, except at night; which means I also can’t get up early in the morning. And then, one isn’t always in the mood to write. Of course, I could scribble all day, and scribble as fast as I can, but such a thing goes out into the world, so I want to make sure I won’t have to feel ashamed, especially when my name appears on the page. Besides, my mind gets easily dulled, as you know, when I’m supposed to write a lot for an instrument I can’t stand.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

Wealthy Dutch amateur flautist Willem Van Britten Dejong had commissioned Mozart to compose three flute concertos and ‘a couple’ of flute quartets. As Mozart states above, only two concertos and one quartet of three were completed in full, hence the heavily reduced fee from the original 200 gulden (roughly $5000 AUD today) that Mozart had been offered.

Thankfully, the Flute Quartet No. 1 is not marred by Mozart’s discontent. The opening Allegro starts with a bright melody, later borrowed by Ludwig van Beethoven for the first movement for his Duo for clarinet and bassoon of 1792. The middle Adagio is a delicate and sonorous aria for the flute in B minor, accompanied by pizzicato strings, and is swiftly followed by a sprightly Rondo finale after a short pause.

 

Program Notes: Joanna Butler & Hugh Ronzani, 2020
Additional Program Notes: © Alan Maddox, 2002

 


PRESENTING PARTNER AUSTRALIAN UNITY

 

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MELISSA FARROW

Melissa Farrow enjoys a fulfilling career as a period flautist, recorder player, and teacher on the Australian early music scene. She plays a variety of instruments, including various models of traverso (side-blown flute) and recorder.

Growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, Melissa came to Sydney in 1994 to study Undergraduate flute and recorder at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She then completed postgraduate studies at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam in flute, recorder and traverso. On her return to Australia, Melissa chose to focus her attention on the area she loves most, early music, collecting and playing historical instruments from early French model Baroque flutes through to mid-nineteenth century flutes.

Since 2003, Melissa has been Principal Baroque Flute and Recorder of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and is a core member of the Australian Haydn Ensemble and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. Melissa is regularly asked to play with other notable ensembles such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Adelaide Baroque, New Zealand Barok, Ironwood, Latitude 37, Ludivico’s Band, The Marais Project, and for the Sydney and Brisbane Festivals.

As Baroque flute and recorder soloist with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Melissa has performed a number of concertos including Vivaldi’s La Notte, RV 439, JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 4, Telemann’s Concerto for Flute and Violin and his Concerto for Recorder and Flute, Mozart’s Andante in C major and his Concerto for Flute and Harp. She features on several of the Brandenburg’s recordings including The Romantics and Brandenburg Celebrates playing Telemann's Concerto for Flute and Violin with Shaun Lee-Chen.

Over the past ten years, Melissa has been given the fantastic opportunity of curating some of the Brandenburg’s smaller chamber music performances for City of Sydney community centres, Australian Unity communities, Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Australia, and Regional Tours.

Melissa enjoys teaching recorder and Baroque style for both modern and Baroque flute and is a casual lecturer in Baroque Flute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

View an interview with Melissa Farrow here

Biography: Melissa Farrow, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

RAFAEL FONT

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His improvised embellishments were constantly surprising and towards the end his manner definitely created some audible chuckles from around the audience. A very fine fiddler indeed.
AUDIENCE MEMBER

Rafael Font started his violin studies at the age of five in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela.

After completing high school, Rafael moved to London to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he obtained a Bachelor of Music on violin under the tutelage of Jacqueline Ross, while also taking Baroque violin lessons with Pavlo Beznosiuk.

During his time in Europe, Rafael worked with many leading British early music groups including the Academy of Ancient Music, La Nuova Musica, La Serenisima, Poeticall Musicke and Charivari Agreable. He was also a participant in the Ann and Peter Law Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Experience scheme. Rafael performed in many of the most important music venues of the UK including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Hall, York Cathedral and St George’s Bristol under the baton of artists such as Sir Colin Davis, Marin Alsop, William Christie and Richard Egarr.

Rafael pursued postgraduate studies in Baroque and Classical violin at the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague with teachers Kati Debretzeni and Walter Reiter, where his main topic of research was the writing of cadenzas in Mozart’s violin concertos. A highly versatile performer, Rafael has interests ranging from XVII Monteverdi to XIX Tchaikovsky in both violin and viola.

Since moving to Sydney, Rafael performs regularly with Australia’s leading early music ensembles including the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, the Australian Haydn Ensemble and Salut! Baroque. Rafael is also a dedicated music teacher, regularly tutoring violin and viola and conducting ensembles across several schools in Sydney.

Rafael is a founding member of the Muffat Collective, one of the most exciting new early music small ensembles in Sydney. The Muffat Collective was formed by four friends who met while studying in the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, bringing bravura and historical style to the trio sonata repertoire of the XVII and XVIII centuries.

View an interview with Rafael Font here

Biography: Rafael Font, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

MARIANNE YEOMANS

Marianne began learning the violin at the age of 7 after finding she was too small to play the viola, which was her first choice. She started on the viola when she was 14 and continued to study both instruments at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School.

Marianne then went on to gain her Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium and soon after headed to the UK, where she continued postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. She studied both Modern and Baroque viola at the RNCM with Pedrag Katanic and Annette Isserlis. It was during her time in the UK that Marianne also found her love of chamber music and gained her Master of Music in String Quartet Performance with Distinction. 

Marianne spent several years in the UK touring and playing with the Rivoli String Quartet as well as the BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras. The pull of the Australian outdoor lifestyle was eventually too strong to ignore and Marianne headed back to Australia in 2008. Since returning to Australia, Marianne has enjoyed playing with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and is also a sought-after musician, enjoying a lively and varied career performing with Australia’s leading ensembles and orchestras on both period and modern violas.

View an interview with Marianne Yeomans here.

Biography: Marianne Yeomans, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

ANTON BABA

Anton is an Australian-born violoncellist specialising in historically informed performance practice. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in classical cello at the Eastman School of Music in USA (2006) and Master’s Degree in Baroque cello at the Royal Conservatorium, The Hague (2013), where he simultaneously undertook studies in viola da gamba. He has performed regularly across Europe with leading period ensembles.

Since returning to Australia in 2018, Anton has been a regular member of Pinchgut Opera, Australian Haydn Ensemble, Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and is a core member of the Muffat Collective.

Aside from performing, Anton is a dedicated teacher and educator providing music lessons and ensemble coaching for students across Sydney. As a member of the ACO Foundations team, Anton has been giving free music lessons at St Marys North Public School. This is an exciting program designed to provide music lessons to students at a critical stage of their early development, building lasting benefits across their academic and creative skills.

Biography: Anton Baba, 2020

BAROQUE FAQ

PERIOD FLUTE

Current records have the transverse flute first mentioned as the flûte d’Allemagne, an odd term as the instrument was seldom used in Germany at the end of the 17th century. As the 18th century progressed all of Europe (especially France and Germany) became enraptured by the instrument’s smooth tone, contrasting tone colours and expressive qualities. During Mozart’s time, transverse flutes – whether equipped with more than one key or not – were being made with narrower bores than their Baroque cousins. Makers explored sometimes dramatic modifications of the shape and taper of the bore according to their current ideas and goals, and the resulting instruments were capable of producing higher pitches and a brighter sound in general.

Baroque FAQ: © Hugh Ronzani, 2021

PERIOD VIOLIN

The violin acquired its principal characteristics in Italy during the second half of the 16th century, these being the curved belly and backpiece, the instrument's typical shape, the different woods used (maple for the backpiece, the sides of the neck, spruce for the belly), the four strings tuned a fifth apart, and, as some would have it, its secret varnishes. Violin makers of that period made instruments that have a great reputation even today, the luthiers Amati and Da Solo being but two examples, while violins that were made by luthiers of the 17th and 18th century Italian school such as Stradivarius and Guarnerius are the most coveted by today’s great violinists. We should, however, note that all these venerable instruments underwent various important structural modifications during the 19th century that were to make them more powerful in tone, thus meeting the demands of larger concert halls and of new works written for the instrument.

Baroque FAQ: © Jérôme Lejeune, 2013

PERIOD VIOLA

The viola is constructed similarly to the violin, but its body is slightly larger, the strings slightly thicker, and the bow is generally slightly heavier. Compared to a modern viola, a period viola has gut, rather than metal strings, a shorter fingerboard, and the neck is at a flatter angle to the body of the instrument. The viola has tended to be thought of as the Cinderella of the orchestra, overshadowed by the more brilliant violin and sonorous cello and used primarily to fill in the middle parts of the harmony, but from about 1740 it was increasingly treated as a solo instrument in concertos, a trend started by Telemann.

Baroque FAQ: © Lynne Murray & Alan Maddox, 2006

PERIOD CELLO

The cello as we know it today was initially developed in the late 17th century as a smaller variant of the Bass Violin, a now obsolete instrument sized a little larger than the cello and with a gruffer, more double bass-like timbre. While the cello did not carry the bass line as weightily as the bass violin, it was more agile, and its bright upper harmonics made it much more versatile as a solo instrument. Usually played without the supporting end pin or ‘spike’ seen on modern cellos, and with gut strings, the 18th century cello produces a clear, luminous sound perfectly suited to both the lyrical and virtuosic elements of the music of Haydn and Boccherini.

Baroque FAQ: © Alan Maddox, 2002

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