One of my favourite Bill Henson photographs shows the ghost of a road, rising and disappearing into the soft darkness of the image.
It is ambiguous but extraordinarily forceful in both what it says and what it does not say.
The road, the darkness and the hint of some mysterious presence are trademark Henson motifs and they were used to great effect in Luminous, his collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Paul Capsis.
The most striking thing about the concert was the way that such contrasting elements were collaged into a seamless whole.
The night somehow knitted together the fiercely modernist music of Schnittke, the lush surfaces of Henson’s imagery and Paul Capsis’s hushed rendition of REM’s I’ve Been High.
Paul Capsis -“ a performer I thought I had pegged -“ was a complete surprise.
There was barely a hint of the powerful torch singer and I took a moment to warm to the pared-back Capsis, but the delicacy and emotional power of his strong renditions of both traditional and contemporary songs quickly won me over.
Usually I would say there is nothing worse than a slide show to accompany classical music -“ it often serves neither medium well.
But Henson’s images were not presented as static frames, the eye of the camera zoomed in, out and around, exploring and revealing the image from abstracted close-up to full frame.
Often the images seemed to float on the notes of the music. The choreography seemed perfect.
After a thrilling first half, the concert got even better.
Richard Tognetti gave a spellbinding performance of Peteris Vask’s Distant Light violin concerto.
This is a complex, layered, haunting work from one of the leading voices of contemporary Baltic music.
Vask is not as well known as his Estonian colleague Arvo P? but he shares with him a commitment to yearning towards the absolute in music.
This concert made me fall in love with music all over again.
Luminous plays again Saturday 16 April 8pm at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, and Sunday 17 April 2:30pm at the Sydney Opera House. Bookings: 8274 3888.