Monday, 11 October 2010

It was Wonderful!

Mellow 'Cellos: Jane Pirie and Hilary Boxer at Exeter Library today
(photo: Luch Càise-Dearg)

At 12.30 this lunchtime, just 100 yards from the busy high street of Exeter, there was a wonderful 'cello duet concert in the music room of the Central Lending Library.  If you weren't able to make it you missed a very special performance.
After relaxing with complimentary chocolates and fresh coffee, the audience were treated to an hour of superb playing by newly formed 'cello duo Hilary Boxer and Jane Pirie.
We started smartly with Kummer's under-appreciated 'cello duets from the nineteenth century.  Alternatively lively and languid they evoked the feeling of Handel's famous Water Music Suite from a century earlier.
'Song of the Vulgar Boatman' by 'Deranged' provided an interesting contrast.  This arrangement (or rather 'derangement') of an earlier piece, possibly by Arthur Sullivan, had Hilary and Jane taking turns to play continuo while the other performed the melody.
'Jazz on Rye' by the cryptically named 'Chateau' (Pierre-Louis D'Aquin De Château-Lyon, perhaps?) was a series of very short and exciting pieces with sudden stops and starts that required the two players to be perfectly coordinated..
The Sonata number 3 in A minor by Vivaldi was perfect in every way.  Jane took over the talking and gave us a great introduction about 'The Red Priest' (born during an earthquake it seems) and his work at the Ospedale della Pietà.  When she faltered over that name a voice from the audience helped her out.  Composer and conductor John Byrt!
And it was John Byrt's music we heard next.  Two variations on the tune of the 1960's pop song based on Cecil Sharp's 1916 poem 'Searching for Lambs'.  Jane read us the original poem very beautifully and then we heard John's variations.  Two gentle and lyrical movements were greeted with rapturous applause - but there was more!  A further section of pizzicato by both players took the variations to a whole new level of brilliance.
Then Hilary, who grew up in Scotland, introduced a set of reels and jigs which we would usually expect to hear played on a violin.  Then we had the traditional Irish piece 'Twisting the Rope'  and finally the Swedish folk music of Roger Tallroth in 'Josefin's Waltz'.
Finally we had two bourrées by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged for two 'cellos by one of the greatest British 'cellists, Professor Christopher Bunting of the Royal College of Music.  During these two delightful dances the players took turns to play pizzicato while the other played with the bow.
Don't despair if you weren't able to get to this dazzling performance.  Sound engineer, Mike Gluyas, managed to make a recording and I hope to share some of that on future 'Classical Journeys' on Phonic FM.  'Josefin's Waltz' is one of several pieces on Hilary's Collaborative CD with guitarist David Cottam, 'Nocturne'.  I'll find out how to get copies and let everyone know on the 'Classical Journey'.
Guitarist David Cottam and 'Cellist Hilary Boxer
During recording of their 'cello and guitar CD 'Nocturne'
Hilary will be back in the music room with David at 12.30 on Monday 8 November for the second of her three 'Tasty Music' lunchtime concerts, CELLO+GUITAR.

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