After the straightforward chronological approach to J.S. Bach’s career by Madeleine Easton and the Bach Akademie Australia in the opening concert, followed by pianist Kormaz Can Sağlam’s inclusion of preludes by Shostakovich and Chopin inspired by the “Glorious 48” in his recital, the Australian Chamber Orchestra chose a narrative timeline approach for its contribution to the third of Sydney Festival’s Temperament seven-part series.

The script by Toby Chadd, the ACO’s Director of Artistic Planning, spoken by actor Ariadne Sgouros, bullet-pointed four dates – 1750, the 1880s, 1943 and 1977 – to give back stories to the eight works on the 70-minute programme performed by a quartet of the orchestra’s core players.

Led by violinist Ike See, with Aiko Goto on violin, violist Elizabeth Woolnough and cellist Melissa Barnard, this was a chance to see some of the familiar but less prominent players in the intimate setting of the ACO’s Neilson Nutshell in its state of the art Sydney HQ.

ACO Up Close at The Neilson. Photo © Victor Frankowski

The running order was neatly bookended by the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, arranged for strings by Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie,...