Whilst recovering from a very intense and political program at the Buxton Festival, we were delighted to receive this absolutely sparkling official review from the festival!
http://www.buxtonfringe.org.uk/reviews2014mus.html --- you can follow the link and scroll down, OR you can find the full review below.
Thank you all from Rachel and I for your continued support, although we are still working on an official name for our duo - any suggestions would be appreciated!
Congratulations to everybody who has taken and those who have already received results from Trinity and ABRSM exams - excellent results and 100% passes once again, and I was very proud to play for an excitingly high standard of pupils presented by instrumental colleagues.
Here at JPM I am looking forward to a couple of more relaxed weeks with a lighter teaching schedule, glorious sunshine and plenty of practise for the next gig - an upcoming opera gala in London with mezzo soprano Rebecca Starling, with a solo slot just long enough for me to pursue some exciting new repertoire. I hope that you are all enjoying this beautiful weather - remember you can still do some wonderful practise away from the piano by taking your score to the park with you and solidifying your fingerings/harmonic and structural awareness!
It's a shame that the rules about reviewing prevent me from just using a couple of superlatives like stunning & brilliant and leaving it at that. This duo are nothing short of amazing. It goes without saying that they display effortless technique, wonderful rapport, and excellent musicianship in bucket-loads.
The program was rather cleverly put together and basically brought together composers whose link was mainly that they had come from Russia in it's broadest sense and included countries that the USSR had invaded.
They started with Six Pieces for Flute & Piano by Amirov, which made us realise we were in for a treat of an evening. These pieces, based on Azeri folk melodies, gave Rachel a chance to show her wide pallet of flute colours, and her superior technique, together with Jemima's sympathetic and musical accompaniment. My favourite piece, No 5 At the Spring, was evocative and fresh, with lovely bird song, and was followed by a moody Nocturne - quite delightful.
This was followed with 4 pieces from Early Morning by Gretchaninoff, a composer I have always enjoyed, and this was wonderful. The Joker, was a good circus style laugh - and we did laugh. Rachel always displays a pure sound and tone, and joined with Jemima's excellent piano playing we couldn't fail to be entertained.
The 71, year old Ukrainian, Stankovych, is a new composer to me, and I suspect the rest of the 16 strong audience. In spite of being a somewhat "modern" composer, the emotional content of the music always came through and was delivered with great poise. There can be few Elegy's that hit the spot like this one did.
The quite well known Aria by Taktakishvili always reminds me of Rachmaninoff "Vocalise", but with so much more passion and musical intensity. It was beautifully performed - of course.
The main item in the program, the Prokofiev Sonata made me realise how lucky we are to have two such musicians in the area, working together. They brought out the dry wit I always associate with Prokofiev, and in the 2nd movement Scherzo, we saw just how special these two performers are. It takes a great composer to write a simple piece of music, and equally great performers to bring it off, and that's just what we got in the Andante, followed by the rather martial, slightly tongue in cheek Allegro con brio. Brilliant!
The encore, Dvorak's 'Humouresque', was one of the most musical performances of this well-known piece I have heard for many a year. Well done and thank you for a lovely evening of excellent music making.