Monday, 25 October 2010

Another Triumph for Ruth (and James!)

James and Ruth after their excellent concert
This lunchtime Ruth Avis (flute) and James Keefe (piano) performed to a delighted audience in the music room at Exeter Central Library.
Following her professional debut with guitarist Clive Betts as the 'Piazzolla Duo' at the Chapter House on 6 October, Ruth teamed up with James to give us 'Songs for Flute and Piano', a very modern classical selection of pieces.
The room was packed as a very appreciative audience crowded in to hear this wonderful recital.  The opening duo by Aaron Copland (which used a very special technique to resonate the notes of the flute in the strings of the piano in the opening bars) was so moving that the staccato close to the the second, 'poetic', movement (briliantly synchronised by Ruth and James) drew a rapturous round of applause from the audience.  Although this would normally be a terrible faux pas - pre-empting the final movement - we were not disappointed, as the last, 'lively' movement was even more brilliant.
Samuel Barber's 'Canzone', which followed, maintained the standard we had now come to expect, extremely mellow and pleasing.
Ruth then very generously left the floor to James who introduced us to the work of Frédéric Chopin - after the style of Vincenzo Bellini - in his 'Etude in C# minor for Piano' based on the 1841 opera 'Norma' which has featured many times on the 'Classical Journey'.  Chopin's arrangement represents the 'cello in the left hand and violin in the right, as James explained so succinctly.  I am hoping that we can hear the full recording, with James's introduction, on the Journey quite soon!
Then came the moment we had all been waiting for.  'Orange Dawn' a tone poem depicting an African sunrise, for flute and piano, composed in 1992 by Guildhall professor of music, Ian Clarke*.  The exotic mood was enhanced by special fingering effects introduced by Clarke, which Ruth executed perfectly.
Ruth then gave us the 'staple' of the flute, 'Syrinx' by Claude Debussy.  Each time I hear that I am reminded why it is so popular.
The final Sonata by Francis Poulenc in three movements was so lyrical and joyful that the audience would not let Ruth and James leave it at that.  They were persuaded to give and encore - the entr'acte from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, before they were finally allowed to leave the stage to ringing applause.
The audience contained many musicians and everyone agreed that Ruth, and fellow musician James, have started as they mean to go on - an accomplished level of excellence!

(* We can enjoy the work of other Guildhall Alumni very soon.  The Exeter Bach Society have invited four Guildhall students to appear as vocal soloists at their forthcoming 'Autumn Baroque' recital at St James' Church on Saturday 6 November.  Full details will be posted to this site and feature in the 'Classical Journey' on Tuesday 2 November.)

A very different look for Ruth in the next 'Piazzolla Duo' concert
And what's next for Ruth?  She and Clive Betts will team up again as the 'Piazzolla Duo' to present not only Argentine, but also Spanish, French and even German music.
Their evening concert at St Stephen's Church in Exeter High Street will include music by Debussy, Ravel, Piazzola and Bach.
The date for the show is Thursday 4 November, so listen out for more details on the 'Journey' on Tuesday the second!

Requests:  please keep those requests coming to  Christine, who came to today's lunchtime concert, requested a song by Elgar which she remembered singing as a trainee teacher at Craiglockhart College in Edinburgh.  She could only remember the opening line - something like "My love dwelt in a foreign land."  Just the kind of challenge we like here at Phonic FM!
Well, good news Christine.  That song has already been located and we can enjoy it on the next 'Classical Journey' programme - during the late Romantic section of the show at about 11.30am.  Don't forget that the next show will be on Tuesday 2 November.  Tomorrow, as at the end of every month, we have the wonderful 'Mighty Book'.

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