New Zealand School of Music Cellos, led by Inbal Megiddo
Music by Mozart, Grűzmacher, Bach, Vivaldi, Brubeck, Gershwin, Joplin
St. Andrew’s on The Terrace
Wednesday, 3 October 2018, 12:15 pm
lnbal Megiddo is the head of Cello Studies at the New Zealand School of Music. Along with her today were seven cello students, all highly competent on the instrument. Their varied programme was heard by a sizeable audience.
The programme commenced with a very fine arrangement of Mozart’s Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, by Douglas Moore, an American composer who died in 1969. The tone of the four cellists who played this was not always well-blended. The names of the players (five females including Megiddo, and three males) were given in the printed programme, but they were not identified individually for each piece played.
Verbal explanations were given rather too fast for everything to be clearly heard. Megiddo explained the origins of two of the cellos – the first was given by the family of the late Wellington luthier and cellist, Ian Lyons. The origin of the other I could not hear. Two of the group played these instruments in Friedrich Grutzmacher’s Duo for two cellos, Op.22 no.2. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Grützmacher was a noted German cellist in the second half of the 19th century. This was most attractive music, very well played. The upper part was quite lovely, with an interesting lower part accompanying. The two players swapped places from time to time, i.e alternating between upper and lower part throughout the performance so that both got a chance to be the soloist. There were gymnastics for both parts.
Next we turned to J S Bach; Prelude and Fugue from Suite no.5 in C minor. It was arranged by Laszlo Varga, (1924-2014), a Hungarian-born American cellist. The effect of the Prelude arrangement was quite romantic. In the Fugue, the separate entries of the instruments revealed the differing timbres of each individual instrument.
A fast version of the three movements of ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (RV 297, Op.4 no.8) followed, in an arrangement by James Barralet, a British cellist. Inbal Megiddo played the solo parts in the first two movements; the largo was beautifully rendered. A student performed the solo in the third movement (allegro) in fine style. It was exquisitely played, and the performers’ ensemble was splendid.
Elegy was quite different from David Brubeck’s other compositions (assuming this is the famed jazz composer Dave Brubeck) such as the well-known Take Five. It lived up to its title superbly. Again, Megiddo played the solo rather mournful but beautiful melody. The music fell away to pianissimo at the end. The players had a lovely blend here.The Gershwin standard ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and Bess kept us in the United States; it was short and sweet, but effective, with Megiddo again playing solo.
Finally, in jazz-land again, we heard The Entertainer, a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin (1868-1917). Again the players revealed their expertise. Although intonation was no always perfect, the playing was full of contrast, including in an excellent pizzicato passage. A cellist in the audience told me that most of this programme had been performed at this year’s Cellophonia, for cellists; ‘a week of music making and expert coaching from international musicians’ held in late August, at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington.