String student talents impressively exhibited at St Andrew’s lunchtime concert

String Students of the New Zealand School of Music

Brahms: Allegro from Violin Sonata no.3, Op.108
Debussy: Allegro vivo from Violin Sonata in G minor
Serge Koussevitzky: Chanson Triste
Beethoven: Allegro vivace from Violin Sonata, Op.12 no.2
Dubois: Andante cantabile
Nikolai Kapustin [not Kasputin as printed in the programme]: Sonata 1

Charlotte Lamb, Sophie Tarrant-Matthews, Patrick Hayes, Claudia Tarrant-Matthews (violins), Hugh McMillan, Claudia Tarrant-Matthews, Sophie Tarrant-Matthews (piano), Jandee Song (bass), Sam Berkahn (cello)

St. Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday, 26 July 2017, 12.15 pm

This was, on the whole, an impressive line-up of young string players.  They are presumably at different stages in their studies (in other years the printed programme for such concerts has shown which year each player was, which was helpful in appreciating their level of skill).

The Brahms sonata is one of his most elegiac pieces.  However, the tone of Charlotte Lamb’s violin being a little harsh didn’t match this character.  She was competent technically, although occasionally intonation was a little suspect.  This being a Romantic sonata, it could have done with more vibrato.  Phrasing and dynamics were fine.  Hugh McMillan played piano sympathetically for this work, and for all except the Tarrant-Matthews collaborations, i.e. the Debussy and the Kapustin.

The Debussy was quite a contrast, with its slow introduction.  Sophie Tarrant-Matthews played her violin with good tone and excellent articulation.  The misty, dreamy movement had a wonderful piano part that seemed to be an equal partner with the violin.  The players were in complete accord in approach and performance – being sisters must help in these matters.

One thinks of Koussevitzky as a composer of very lively music; the piece for bass and piano was quite different.  It was a solemn, rather slow piece, played from memory by its diminutive performer.  Jandee Song’s tone was not large, but this suited the piece; her performance was pleasing.

The Beethoven movement was quite short.  Patrick Hayes obviously knew it well; he seldom looked at his score.  He produced attractive tone and made the music rhythmically lively.  The sudden ending to this bright piece amused the audience.

Sam Berkahn made great work of his soulful Dubois piece, which he played with great accuracy and clarity.  His intonation was virtually impeccable, and he produced splendid tone and good volume.  He made the most of the lyricism in the work, and appeared to be the master of his instrument and its possibilities.

The Tarrant-Matthews sisters reversed roles for the Kapustin sonata, and proved to be equally as competent on both instruments.  Nikolai Kapustin was born in Ukraine in 1937, but studied music in Moscow, and is usually referred to as a Russian composer.  Wikipedia says “During the 1950s he acquired a reputation as a jazz pianist, arranger and composer. He is steeped, therefore, in both the traditions of classical virtuoso pianism and improvisational jazz.”

These characteristics were certainly to the fore in the sonata.  Jazzy as it was, these two performers were thoroughly in control of it.  Claudia Tarrant-Matthews obtained a full tone from her instrument.  Off-beat rhythms and plenty of double-stopping were strong features.  This was a difficult work, not least rhythmically, and it was carried off with élan by two very able musicians, ending a varied and interesting concert.

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