Johann Nexo & Damien Riviere

Vexo /Riviere Concert review…

301 years was the span of the music presented by organ virtuoso Johann Vexo and soloist Damien Riviere at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral on Tuesday evening.  It was like reaching across time as the audience enjoyed a rare treat when the two internationally acclaimed artists appeared in concert.

The programme featured a variety of compositional styles that demanded attention to the subtle nuances unique to the inflections of the featured composers. 

The concert opened with the very lively and dynamic “Comfort Ye Ev’ry Valley” from Handel’s Messiah.  This was a magnificent opening that established the virtuosity of the artists, organist Johann Vexo coaxing everything from the Cathedral organ to support tenor Damien Riviere’s soaring and unamplified voice. 

The genius of Monsignor Hawes design was reflected as Riviere’s changing positions under the Cathedral dome added an ethereal element to the voice complimented by the organ.  The organ sounds emanated from two separate locations, from the rear loft and from the gallery.  This gave the performance a multi-dimensional ambience that is purely acoustic…a rare experience in a world of amplification.

The presentation included works from Handel,  JS Bach, Mozart, Marcel Dupre, Louis Vierne and Maurice Durufle.  Each piece gave the audience a contrast in sound and texture, from the delicate Mozart “Andante in F” to the more robust Vierne “Carilllon de Westminster” which is an improvisation on London’s Big Ben Chimes. 

A most enjoyable musical experience that serves to remind how fortunate it is that Geraldton hosts a venue like St Francis Xavier Cathedral and an instrument capable of attracting world class performers.  Vexo and Riviere will continue their tour with appearances in other Australian capitals and then to New Zealand.

Credit must be given to the concert organisers in being able to secure their appearance in Geraldton.