Mendelssohn in Wigmore Street

At Wigmore Hall last night was a thrilling performance by the Scottish Ensemble, a string orchestra, together with Scottish pianist Alasdair Beatson. The program comprised works by Stravinsky and by Mendelssohn.  Both the Stravinsky pieces were  rhythmically complex, but hard to parse otherwise – melodic invention, as so often with this composer, was absent and large-scale musical form, if indeed any was present, was not discernible from a single hearing.

I have remarked before that music instantiates or executes a thought process, and some music involves thinking processes that are alien to me.  Most of Stravinsky’s late music is in this category, while that in his middle phase (in the so-called NeoClassical style), while not alien, is quite often banal.  Yet his early music speaks to me profoundly. Last night’s two pieces were clearly challenging to perform well, with the subtle rhythmic interactions and off-piste counting, despite their unpleasant listening.

What I lost there, however, was more than compensated by the Mendelssohn.  The first half saw the Ensemble play two of his Four Pieces for String Quartet, which really should be called “four pieces for String Quartet”, since the composer never grouped them together in this way.  The fugue of the first piece, furiously intense, gives the lie to the claim one still sometimes hears that Mendelssohn’s music lacks profundity or intensity. The playing and cohesion here was superb, and as always with this fugue, spine-chilling. It would be nice to hear this group play some of Mendelssohn’s 12 string symphonies, particularly the fugal movements of the later symphonies.

The real excitement last night came with Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings, in which Alasdair Beatson played piano and Jonathan Morton, solo violin.   Morton also joined in the ensemble parts when not soloing.  I know this piece very well, although I can recall only once hearing it in performance.  The placement of the performers was somewhat strange, with the high and middle strings behind the piano (and hence behind the upraised lid), dulling their sound.

In any case, the performance was thrilling in the extreme. Beatson captured the many, varied moods of the piano part – from church-like chorale harmonies, through rolling, lieder-style accompaniments for a cantabile violin, to a tempestuousness that made the instrument sound like an angry, rampaging animal.     You can tell how good Mendelssohn was as a pianist himself just by listening to this part, and also how much he enjoyed playing.   The first movement, particularly, has flourishes of pleasure and delight throughout.

Strange, then, was the positioning on stage of the two soloists, with the violinist standing behind the pianist. The first movement has such witty interplay between the two performers – calls-and-responses, mimicry, quoting, and transforming, etc – that for each player not to be able to see the eyes of the other seems untenable.   I cannot imagine young Felix on piano and Eduard Rietz, his friend and violin teacher, for whom this music was written, not facing each other and smiling with each returned flourish.

Like the Australia Chamber Orchestra, most members of the Scottish Ensemble stand while performing.  As with the ACO,  this strikes me as an insidious type of ageism, and is entirely unnecessary.  Only young or very fit people can do this, and one wonders at what average age of ensemble members will the group regain their commonsense. Also, for the historical record, Beatson’s pages were turned by one of the hall staff: even the stage-hands at the Wigmore can read music, apparently.

Program:

Stravinsky:  Concerto in D
Mendelssohn:  Capriccio and Fugue from opus 81 (arranged Morton)
Stravinsky:  Concertino (arranged Morton)
Mendelssohn:  Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D minor.

A review of another concert in the same tour, in Dundee, is here.

This concert is listed in my concatenation of live music events.

William Booth in Bundamba

A great free community concert last weekend, to celebrate 125 years of the Salvation Army in Bundamba, Queensland, held in the Ipswich Civic Hall.   The hall is relatively new and has an interesting shape and footprint: outwardly-opening tiered fan-shaped for the stage and the front half of the hall, leading to a square box at the back, and having multiple box-shaped extrusions on the walls; the seating was flat on the wooden floor in the front, with demountable and translatable tiered-seating in the back.  About 2/3 of the hall was used for this concert, the movable rear wall being translated forward.  The acoustics were surprisingly good, at least in the front half, even though the sound was amplified.
The performers included four groups: the prize-winning Brisbane Excelsior Brass Band, one of Australia’s (and the world’s) best; the 125-year-old Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Youth Choir, a legacy of the area’s 19th-century Welsh coal-miners;  the young jazz ensemble Jazz Effect; and Bundamba Quartette, a mature male barbershop quartet.     Jazz Effect comprised 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 saxes (tenor and alto), 2 guitars, drums, keyboards, an occasional singer (who also doubled on bongos for one number), and a flugel-horn-playing conductor.   Most of the performances were very good, although I think the Jazz Effect vocalist could have benefited from a tuning fork.    The music ranged from popular numbers to favourite Salvation Army hymns.    Although no national anthem was played, the audience was asked to join the singing of one hymn at the end of the evening.   The impact of the Salvos on Australian brass music is not something to be under-estimated, as the personal links between the various musicians, the groups, and even the compere Greg Aitken (himself head of brass at the Queensland Conservatorium) demonstrated.  An off-duty statistician might have estimated the audience at about 200-strong.
Some of these performers were later seen here.

Concert Concat 1

As part of the diverse mental attic that this blog is, this post simply lists live music I have heard, as best my memory serves, up until the pandemic. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this series are listed here.

  • Gulce Sevgen, piano, in a concert at the Gesellschaft fur Musiktheatre, Turkenstrasse 19, Vienna 1090, Austria, 15 November 2018.   This venue turned out to be a small room holding 48 seats in a converted apartment.  There were 20 people present to hear Ms Sevgen play JS Bach’s Chromatic Fantasie & Fugue in d-minor BWV903, Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata, excerpts from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses, Op. 54, and Liszt’s Concert Etude E/M A218 and Zweite Ballade, E/M A181.  Ms Sevgen’s performance throughout was from memory, a quite remarkable feat.  Her playing was perhaps too loud for the size of the room, even with the piano lid half-down. The Bach, Beethoven and Mendelssohn were all excellent.  I have remarked before that I do not “get” the music of Prokofiev.  His music for Romeo and Juliet is a prime example:  the famous dance with its large-footed stomping bassline conjures up, for me, Norwegian trolls not feuding Italian merchant families, as if the composer had read a different play altogether. (Mendelssohn’s and Shostakovich’s incidental music to Shakespeare, by contrast, both make perfect sense.)  The playing of the Liszt works was fluent and articulate, but devoid of any meaning; it is perhaps unfair to ask performers to add meaning where there was none, since these are simply show-off pieces, all style and no substance.  But it is not unfair to ask performers not to play such vapid, meaningless music in public.
  • Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 1’

Palm Sunday Concert

Another concert caught in Bologna this past weekend was a short concert for Palm Sunday in the Crypt of the Basilica of San Pietro.  The music was by Quartetto d’Archi G. B. Martini and Corale Convivium Musicum, playing the following programme:

  • Vivaldi:  Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro
  • Schubert:  6 Antifone per al Domenica della Palme
  • Haydn:  da Le Sette Parole di Cristo in CroceIntroduzione, Pater, and Terremoto.

The string quartet comprised  Cesare Carretta (1st), Stefano Chiarotti (2nd), Margherita Fanton (viola), and Antonio Mostacci (‘cello).
The acoustics of the crypt were surprisingly good:  despite the stone walls and columns, the low, curved ceilings bounced the sound around the chamber, and the crowd absorbed it well.  Perhaps all the palm fronds being waved helped.  The music was performed well, although the concert was over in under 30 minutes.    We were left wanting more.

Firebird in Bologna

A superb concert last night in Bologna, with Orchestra Mozart and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra combining forces under young conductor Diego Matheuz.    The concert took place in Auditorium Manzoni, where I have enjoyed concerts before, sometimes under Maestro Abbado.  This hall has a relatively modern interior, almost fan-shaped, with undulating wooden walls and an undulating wooden ceiling over the stage.  The acoustic is warm, bright and fast.  The stage is only small, and barely took the forces arranged last night.   The cellos were placed in the middle, with the violas on the conductor’s immediate right, and so the sound of the violas may well have been lost.   Similarly, only the percussion and brass were (slightly) elevated, the woodwinds seated at the same level as the strings. I was close enough not to miss anything from these placements.
Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto was played by Vadim Repin, who also played Ravel’s violin rhapsody, Tzigane.  Both pieces were fiery and technically impressive, my strong distaste for Prokofiev’s music notwithstanding.   His music strikes me as truly incoherent, using types of expression (eg, multiple simultaneous keys) and modes of musical cognition that are alien to me.  My distaste is stronger than mere dislike, being incomprehension.   The abrupt change in mood, for example, between the second and third movements, seems meant to provoke the listener, as if to say, I have the power to change your attitude to this music at a whim, and to prove it, I will now do it. Who could enjoy the company of such a person?
I have heard Repin perform before, a few years ago in Barcelona (playing the Sibelius concerto).  As on that occasion, he encored with theme and variations of Carnival of Venice, a crowd-stopping showpiece of skill and effects made famous for violinists by Pagannini and for trumpeters by Arban.   This time, however, Repin began with a fiery introduction, then detoured into several bars of accompaniment vamping before launching the theme.  The vamping allowed him to signal to the orchestral musicians what to play as they joined him, something he had tried unsuccessfully in Barcelona while himself playing the theme.
The concert also included Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, in what was certainly the most thrilling, spine-tingling, edge-of-seat performance of this work I have ever heard.  Matheuz conducted from memory, which is not nothing for this jagged music, and his energy and enthusiasm was compelling.   The principal violinists had swapped places for this piece.   Before the interval, the principal for the Mahler CO, Gregory Ahss, was lead.   For the Stravinsky after interval, Orchestra Mozart’s principal, Raphael Christ, took over.   I was seated close enough to see them play, and both were very impressive.   Both people to watch, along with Matheuz.

Programme:
Maurice Ravel:  Daphnis et Chloé, Suite #2.
Sergei Prokofiev: Concerto for Violin  #1 in D Major op. 19
Maurice Ravel: Tzigane, Rhapsody for violin and orchestra
Igor Stravinsky:  L’Oiseau de feu (Suite, version of 1919).
The Auditorium Manzoni is mildly fan-shaped, a shape that is not common for concert halls.  (Another example is the art deco Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, UK, whose fan shape is much more pronounced.)  The walls around the stage and the hall, along with the ceiling over the stage have an undulating wooden veneer, which would help sound propagation in diverse directions.   The balcony overhands a large part of the auditorium, but at quite a high level, so that seats under the balcony are not “dark” in terms of the sounds they receive from the stage.

Classical Violinists

Hearing a concert by Vadim Repin, the second time I have heard him play, I thought to list all the classical solo violinists I have heard perform live (in alpha order, with the music where recalled):

  • Alena Baeva – Mendelssohn’s D minor Concerto (Moscow Soloists Chamber Ensemble, London 2011)
  • Joshua Bell – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (London), Mozart Concertos (Manchester), and the Concerto of Behzad Ranjbaran (world premiere, Liverpool)
  • James Ehnes (Manchester)
  • Konrad Elias-Trostmann -Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (Sinfonia d’Amici, London, April 2014)
  • Thomas Gould – e-Violin Concerto of Nico Muhly (world premiere, London)
  • Giovanni Guzzo – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (L’Orchestre du Monde, under Janusz Piotrowicz,  Cadogan Hall, London, May 2014)
  • Simon Hewitt Jones (Liverpool)
  • Daniel Hope – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (both the standard and the original versions, London)
  • Alina Ibragimova – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (London, 2012);  Schumann’s Concerto, with the London Symphony Orchestra (London, 2014).  Schumann wrote his concerto for Joachim (pictured), who never performed it publicly, and tried to keep it out of print for a long time.   Pity that Joachim did not succeed.
  • Cameron Jamieson – Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto (Brisbane 2011)
  • Sergey Khachatryan (Manchester)
  • So Ock Kim – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (London)
  • Gidon Kremer (Copenhagen)
  • Pekka Kuusisto – Concerto for Violin by Thomas Ades (Britten Sinfonia, London, 2012); Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (RCM Chamber Orchestra and Sacconi Quartet, Folkestone, May 2014); Bach’s D Minor Partita (Improvisation with Teemu Korpipaa, Folkestone, May 2014).
  • Tasmin Little – Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (Liverpool 2003),  and (Manchester)
  • Jonathan Morton – Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D Minor (London 2011)
  • Rachel Podger – Bach Double in D min (Manchester)
  • Vadim Repin – Sibelius’ Concerto (Barcelona) and Prokofiev’s Concerto #1 (Bologna 2011)
  • Linus Roth (Liverpool)
  • Baiba Skride – Mozart and Mendelssohn Sonatas (London 2011)
  • Valeriy Sokolov – Sibelius’ Concerto (Manchester)
  • Christian Tetzlaff – Bach Partita #2 in Dm & Sonata #3 in C, and Beethoven Concerto (London 2015)
  • Richard Tognetti (Sydney, Brisbane 2009)
  • Nikolaj Znaider – Tchaikovsky Concerto (London 2015)

The drawing is Adoph Menzel’s 1853 drawing of Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), famously a pupil of Mendelssohn and a cousin of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s grandmother.   Joachim taught Jeno Hubay (1858-1937), who taught Leo Birsen (1902-1992), with whom I had some lessons.

Bach in Sloane Square

Last night saw a superb performance of Bach, Purcell and Allegri by Solistes de Musique Ancienne, to about 100 very fortunate people in Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square. The concert was billed as A Celebration of Easter, and included Purcell’s Welcome to all the Pleasures, Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin (BWV 1060, in C minor), Allegri’s Miserere, and Bach’s Easter Oratorio. The performance was led by Joel Newsome, with all the orchestral parts performed by soloists.

The Purcell had some interesting harmonies, and was sung and performed well, but otherwise was not something I warmed to. The Oboe+Violin Concerto was superb, and the playing effortless, together, and unhurried. My only criticism was the placement of the soloists. The acoustics of this church – high spaces, uncovered stone columns, stone walls – meant the sound bounces around a great deal, with a long delay. Placing the soloists behind the other musicians meant that their sound was somewhat muffled by comparison with the ensemble, at least for those of us in the mid-centre of the church, even though the soloists were standing and the others were sitting. The muffling meant that we did not always hear well the oboe’s elaborations.

The Allegri took advantage of the specific features of the space, something I always applaud, with the chorus divided between the front of the church (near the altar) and the choir loft upstairs at the rear. The resulting call-and-response and echo effects were superb, and the piece provided, as the director said, an appropriate contemplative prelude to the Easter Oratorio.

The Oratorio was performed with baroque trumpets, which even leading professionals play with trepidation. Last night’s performers appeared to be using trumpets with vent holes, which certainly help secure intonation, although perhaps are not strictly historically accurate. The wobbles here were not too strong, and were in any case mostly covered by the acoustics. Personally, I am a great fan of 21st-century mash-up culture, so I celebrated the fact that modern versions of baroque trumpets were used alongside 19th century violins and bows (played with vibrato), in a room with artificial heating and decorated mostly with 19th-century British art.

The performance of the Oratorio was superb. The stillness at the end, when the audience seemed to be sitting on its hands, was because no one wanted to break the sense of having been transported elsewhere that we’d all just experienced.

Other posts on music here. Some thoughts on what music is for, here.

Cocktails with Rhythmica

Another superb gig from Rhythmica, this time in the Cafe of Foyle’s Bookshop in London.   After last weekend’s wake-up call in Southport, tonight’s gig was at a more civilized hour.   But the pace and the musical skill and the serious intent were just the same – anyone expecting easy-listening, cocktail-bar music was in for a shock!
With about 75 people present, it was standing room only.    Standing at the back, I found Peter Edwards’ piano hard to hear – maybe it was not amplified, or not sufficiently.   I enjoyed again bass Peter Randall’s solo in Parallel, a solo which seemed to have more coherence tonight, or perhaps I understood the motifs and their development better this time round.   Andy Chapman on drums provided solid support for the odd time signatures, and I noticed again the frequent rhythmic coupling and tripling he did with Randall’s bass and Edwards’ piano.
I was also impressed by Mark Crown’s superfast bop trumpet solo on Herbie Hancock’s The Sorcerer. But the man of the match tonight was undoubtedly stand-in tenor sax player, Binker Golding, whose blistering, vein-popping solo on the same number had the audience up in a standing ovation when he ended.    Even the two Dutch women near me who talked through the entire set were quiet for this, although they still didn’t look at the stage.
As best I recall, the order of songs was:

  • Time Machine (Audu)
  • Anthem (Edwards)
  • Parallel (Joe Harriott)
  • Turner’s Dream (Crown)
  • Triple Threat (Edwards)
  • The Sorcerer (Hancock)
  • Blind Man’s Stomp (Golding).

Can’t wait to hear these guys again!
UPDATE (2011-02-18): A video of Binker’s blistering solo is here, and photos of the gig here.

Breakfast with Rhythmica

Earlier today I caught a rainy, late morning gig by Rhythmica as part of the Southport Jazz on a Winter’s Weekend Festival.  The quintet comprises Mark Crown on trumpet, Peter Edwards piano, Peter Randall double bass, Andy Chapman drums, and Zem Audu on sax.  Audu was absent today, his place taken by Binker Golding on tenor sax.   There were perhaps 150 people in the audience, with only a handful looking younger than 50.   Maybe everyone younger was still asleep.
What a way to wake up!  From the first three bars of the first number – Time Machine – you knew these guys were serious – they were people to be reckoned with.  The piece was in 11/4 (or perhaps one bar in 3 beats to every two bars in 4), and they were extremely together!  Piano and bass were in close unison for an ostinato bass line, trumpet and tenor sax together in similar unison for the melody.    And everyone – all 5 – in very tight formation.    The close co-ordination was evident throughout the morning, with the players grouping mostly as for Time Machine.
The use of trumpet and sax together, sometimes in unison, sometimes playing seconds and thirds (especially at the ends of unison phrases), with the piano riffing between phrases,  as if commenting from the sidelines on the melody, is a feature of Wynton Marsalis’ compositions, and before him, of Wayne Shorter and others in the early 60s.   This produces what I find is a very attractive sound, and Rhythmica did it very well.  Anthem was in this vein.   Sometimes also the bass and drums would double (as in Mr JJ), and just once we also heard trumpet, sax and piano play unison/thirds choruses together, in the aptly named Triple Threat.   And for the final chorus of Solace, Crown’s trumpet played long-held falling fifths underneath everyone else’s bop gyrations; these were just sublime.
In a lineup of excellent performers, the standout for me was bass player Peter Randall – he was fast, agile, and with lots of interesting walking lines – and using all five fingers to stop strings in the high registers.   But we only heard him solo once (in Parallel) –  it would be good to hear more of him.

As best I recall, the order of songs was as follows:
Set 1:

  • Time Machine (written by Audu)
  • Anthem (Edwards)
  • Delfeayo’s Dilemma (Wynton Marsalis)
  • Turner’s Dream (Crown)
  • Mr JJ (Jeff “Tain” Watts)

Set 2:

  • Triple Threat – The Bridge (Edwards)
  • Parallel (Joe Harriott)
  • Solace (Edwards)
  • The Sorcerer (Herbie Hancock)
  • Blind Man Stomp (Golding).

The last number was a great New Orleans stomp written by Binker Golding, which the crowd loved – perhaps showing their real preference would have been for something more traditional.   Myself, I was happier with what came before.  Counting 11 to the bar certainly woke me up PDQ!

UPDATE (2011-02-06): I have now listened to their debut CD.  Confirms my view that these guys are not people you’d want to mess with.  They have some serious intent and the strong musical skills to achieve it.  This is great music.
UPDATE #2 (2011-02-08): The band’s next outing is in a bookshop!   First, pre-dawn Saturday morning gigs, then playing  in libraries!  What next?  An appearance on The Archers?  Or music to accompany a TV cooking program?

Last Tango in Braidwood

Here is a review of a concert of student compositions, held at the then Canberra School of Music, on 31 October 1978, which I wrote at the time.    It is interesting that the student composer of one of the least impressive works played at that concert should end up as a professional composer  (Knehans), while that of the most impressive, it seems, did not (McGuiness).    But the style of McGuiness’ piece was closer to what we now call downtown, and I have never been much impressed with uptown contemporary music, despite its hold on the academy and the new music establishment.  My sympathies for downtown and antipathy to uptown music has as much to do with the various aspirations of these styles as with how the resulting music sounds.
Ian Davies:  Last Tango in Braidwood or I Might be Wrong. Very good – at times impressionistic, at other times expressionistic.    Owes a lot to Sculthorpe (before his turn to late romanticism).  Good stereo effects. Held together well, except for the ending.  The last 15% of the piece would be better deleted and replaced by something much shorter, and more unified with the first 85%.
Alexandra Campbell:  Harmonic Music. More harmonic than Davies’ piece, but not at all traditional. The piece seemed to lack any unifying idea, and just seemed a series of random statements, the phrases disconnected and unrelated.  A pity, because some of the individual phrases were nice-sounding.  Showed clear understanding of instrumental possibilities, especially the winds – perhaps fittingly for a composer who plays the oboe.
Richard Webb:  Cube. If the previous piece was incoherent, this was completely incomprehensible.   Like listening to someone speaking in an unknown foreign language, not even the individual phrases made sense.  The piece was just a cacophony of effects, overloud and overlong.
Richard Webb:  Maya. A tape realization, this was also overloud and overlong. Not gebrauchsmusik, but boretheaudiencemusik.   Listening to electronic special effects in 1978 brings to mind only Star Wars and science fiction novels, so perhaps these effects can’t be used any longer.  The audience began to talk about 3/4 of the way through, so my boredom was not unique.
Andrew McGuinessSimple Music (for Simple People). This was superb!  Fantastic!   The ensemble stood in darkness and played according to graphic instructions written on paper affixed to the wall, each page of instructions illuminated by a lady (Alex Campbell) holding a torch, as it was being played.  Sitting  in the dark with just the torch light, it felt like we were watching a sunrise.  And the music mirrored this feeling perfectly, though it was not programmatic or symbolic at all.  The music was impressionistic and at times pseudo-Balinese (again, a la Sculthorpe).  One discord was sustained throughout, I think on an electric piano or on a synth set to “harpsichord”, perhaps.  Simply marvellous.
Peter Butler:  Champagne will be Served at Interval. Butler played chimes and electronic piano at front. The e-piano was too loud, especially in comparison with the acoustic piano at rear.  Apart from this the piece was very good.  The “form” was a call-and-response structure, with the call issued by one of the five sections (strings; e-piano; piano; guitar and flute;  and guitar and flute) to another, with the chimes intervening every so often to signal a climax, or perhaps an anti-climax.  The calls – were these questions? – occasionally became fierce, with loud crescendos and sustained ranting, usually ending abruptly or halted by a clang of the chimes.  Certainly, as the notes said, a snakes-and-ladders piece.  Apparently, only the outline was sketched by the composer, with details added by the performers.  It would be interesting to see the score.   This was the most expressionistic piece of the evening (ignoring the tape realization).
Peter Butler:  One Dollar per Glass. A piece for solo guitar, performed by Brian Lewis, this was a collage of special effects:  tapping of the base of the guitar; playing it with a cello bow, a beer glass and a spoon; and re-tuning the instrument while it was being played.  The second half of the piece was more overboard with effects than the first, which at least required some guitar-playing skills from the performer.
Douglas KnehansSurvey in Regions (A Tragedy in 4 Parts). Structured on Eliot’s poem, Portrait of a Lady, the piece was supported by rude tape noises.   Some of these tape recordings were verses of the poem, although others sounded like Ronnie Barker speaking.  I was unable not to laugh each time Barker’s voice was heard.  The piece seemed sentimental and insincere, because so many cues in  the poem were missed or ignored:  “attenuated tones of violins, Mingled with remote cornets”, “a dull tom-tom begins”, etc.  The only excitement was visual, since the performers each played many instruments (although only ever one at a time), so that everyone was running around:  organist to xylophone, and then back; guitarist to bass drum and back, only to be followed to the drum immediately by the lady percussionist.  Musically, the piece made no sense to me, although the organ had some nice phrases now and again.
The photo shows the balcony of the Royal Mail Hotel, Wallace Street, Braidwood, NSW, Australia (credit: VisitBraidwood).