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  • Helen Gramotnev


Brisbane Music Festival never disappoints, and the seventh concert in the 2021 series, Butterflying, is a warm and welcoming music experience performed by young musicians Julia Hill (violin) and Francis Atkins (piano).

Opening with Bach’s Violin Sonata no. 1 in G minor, Julia Hill tackles the ambitious piece with grace, courage, and genuine openness for music performance experience. This charismatic young violinist has a unique ability to connect with her audience, making it easy for them to follow her on her music journey.

Hill’s partnership with Francis Atkins shines on stage with musical chemistry that makes Clara Schumann’s romances feel like a dance between the piano and the violin. As the two instruments move through their harmonies, so do the performers themselves with a warm acknowledgement of each other, almost dancing to the music themselves.

Their contemporary piece, Butterflying by Elena Kats-Chernin, will carry you away to where dreams are made. This star piece, giving its title to the concert itself, shows just how much joy a violin-piano duet can be.

To finish with a punch, the duo chose Poulenc’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. The performers themselves explain that Poulenc hated writing for the violin, with the idea of the piano accompanying a violin seeming abhorrent to the composer. This aggressive conflict Poulenc must have felt bursts through the Sonata, as the two instruments seem to battle out their superiority over each other, resting only briefly in the second movement. Conveyed brilliantly by Hill and Atkins, this instrumental battle can be felt by every person in the audience, thanks to the musical skills and theatricality demonstrated by the performers.

Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable music performances I have had the pleasure of seeing—perfectly planned and executed with delightful abandon and impressive skill.

You can see more of the Brisbane Music Festival throughout 2021, with the full program available on their website.


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