Glittering prizes from a talented duo at St.Andrew’s

St. Andrews on the Terrace: Lunchtime Concert Series

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918): Nocturne for Violin and Piano
Haydn: Sonata No.47 in B minor for piano (Hob.XVI No.32)
Brahms: Sonata No.1 in G Opus 78 for Violin and Piano

Simeon Broom (violin) and Rachel Church (piano)

29th October 2014

This concert was a joy, definitely in the very top bracket of 2014 lunchtime offerings at St. Andrews on the Terrace. The committed musicianship and professionalism of the two artists was apparent from the first note, when one understood immediately that this was all about the music, not the players.

Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne is a gem. In this duo’s hands it opened as a gentle meditation, languid with the warm sultry air of Mediterranean nights, that blossomed into a passionate central section before fading beautifully into the closing pianissimo of eyelids too heavy for anything but sleep. Superb artistry from first to last.

Rachel Church’s Piano Sonata No.47 by Haydn was marked by that indefinable, unassuming confidence of a musician who is completely at one with a work – its stylistic, rhythmic, historical idioms all embodied in a reading that seems entirely appropriate and convincing.

The polished opening Allegro led into the Minuet whose Trio in the lower registers was rich with almost romantic warmth. The closing Presto was taken at a very lively clip that teetered on losing some clarity of line during fast runs, but just snuck through thanks to Rachel’s technical facility. It rounded off a most satisfying experience of this colourful and dramatic sonata.

Brahms’ first violin sonata opens with a familiar and much loved theme that was expressed in Simeon Broom’s silken tone with exquisite tenderness. It was the start of a wonderful journey through this work that explores such a huge range of emotions, from the most forceful passions to the most moving pathos.

The constantly shifting tonalities were subtely revealed as they appeared; and Brahms’ thematic complexites, which can become quite bewildering in less skillful and sympathetic hands, were fashioned into an ever evolving, but comprehensible stream of musical consciousness. There was total understanding between the players of their common vision and interpretation, which were allowed to take centre stage due to the total physical economy of their performance styles.

These two artists have toured in 2012 for Chamber Music NZ as part of the Akoka Quartet, but they undoubtedly merit a tour of their own in this duo format. They offer music making of the highest order that chamber music lovers throughout the country deserve to hear, so I very much hope to see them in future CMNZ programmes.

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