[MUSIC ~ ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ GBR]
Adelaide Town Hall – Auditorium, Thu 7 Mar.
Celebrated British cellist Natalie Clein and the wonderful Russian pianist Katya Apekisheva take to the stage to present a varied but beautifully balanced program for their first national tour of Australia sponsored by Musica Viva. This evening’s program begins with Vaughan Williams’ Six Studies in English Folk-Song. Beautiful as they are, the six studies last a total of only 9 minutes, and I’m wanting each one to go on a little longer.
From Jewish Life by Ernest Bloch is an interesting contrast to the English folk songs. The European lyricism across the three movements is filled with emotion. Natalie’s tone in the lower registers is wonderful. The more energised finale showcases the virtuosity of both players. The first half of tonight’s program concludes with Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata for Viola (or Cello). Natalie explains that the piece was originally written for viola, but we can see why she is championing its adaptation for cello.
After an interval Natalie returns solo to play a later Ernest Bloch work, Suite no 1 for Solo Cello. The order of the Bloch pieces has been swapped from the printed program for the sake of chronology.
We are then treated to a world premiere performance of Natalie Williams’ The Dreaming Land, a new work commissioned for Musica Viva. The Barossa-born composer is on hand to explain what the music was intending to convey. It is a mesmerising expression of the Australian landscape over thousands of years of aboriginal guardianship, and deserves to be heard more widely. Again this is nicely contrasted by ending the program with a more traditional work by Beethoven.
A surprise encore is given with the blissful Andante movement from Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor, which turns out to be another exquisite highlight.
Natalie and Katya work brilliantly together and the evening has been a tremendous success, with amazing examples of energised virtuosity from both players throughout the concert.
Image courtesy of Keith Saunders