St. Andrew’s-on-The-Terrace Lunchtime Concert Series presents:
Music for Cello & Piano from Eastern Europe
Josef Suk: Ballade & Serenade Op 3 for Cello & Piano (1898)
Witold Lutoslawski Grave Metamorphoses for Cello & Piano (1981)
Bohuslav Martinů Sonata No 2 for Cello & Piano. (1941)
Robert Ibell (cello) and Rachel Thomson (piano)
St. Andrew on the Terrace
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
We are very fortunate in Wellington to have artists of the calibre of Robert Ibell and Rachel Thomson. They are both very versatile musicians. Ibell is the cellist of the Aroha Quartet, a past member of the NZSO, and now he plays with a number of different ensembles. Rachel Thomson is an accompanist, associated with many local artists. They presented a program of largely unfamiliar works from Eastern Europe. I am giving here a brief account of this, their recent cello-and-piano recital for the historical record.
Josef Suk: Ballade & Serenade Op 3 for Cello & Piano
This is an early work of Suk. Ibell and Thomson gave the opening sombre Ballade plenty of emotion and intensity, following this with a playful Serenade. Both movements required soulful playing by cellist and pianist alike. They brought out the melodious, approachable character of the work most successfully.
Witold Lutoslawski:i Grave Metamorphoses for Cello & Piano
This was written more than eighty years after the previous piece. A lot had happened to the world and music in those intervening years – two world wars, and the disintegration of the received ideas of what music should sound like. Lutoslawski uses the first four notes of Debussy’s opera, Pelléas and Mélisande which then becomes the metamorphoses, the transformation, the breakup of the notes into different rhythmic configurations. At the end of the piece the four-note configuration from Pelléas returns. Ibell’s and Thomson’s playing rose splendidly to meet both the technical and musical challenges posed by this work.
Bohuslav Martinů: Sonata No 2 for Cello & Piano
It’s good to hear Martinu’s music being played more frequently in concerts. This substantial sonata was written in 1941. The war was at its most brutal early stages, and Martinů’s Czechoslovakia was no more, causing him to seek refuge in the United States. He wrote this major work, which is essentially in the traditional three movements. The first movement is vigorous and energetic, the second is full of passionate longing with a gorgeous lyrical cello line, and the finale makes use of strong rhythms suggesting Bohemian peasant dances.
This, in tandem with the other works, made for a stimulating concert, and brought to us seldom performed music that was well worth hearing. I thought there was a real sense of fine partnership between Robert Ibell and Rachel Thomson throughout. Their playing was thoroughly convincing demonstrating what sounded like real affinity with this repertoire. For their committed efforts these two musicians deserve our gratitude.