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Winter Solstice Concert: programme, performers, guests, food, reviews, photos

Bon Journal

Winter Solstice Concert

In the past few months, every other Sunday the cellist and violist and I sightread chamber music for fun. One day I suggested the idea of sharing the music with friends. After all, what is music if we can't share it?

How about Sunday the 22nd? A noon concert to last the shortest day of the year. That's how it began.

In an ideal world I would invite all my friends and neighbours. But my hobbit hole isn't big enough to be comfortable. So a date close to Christmas would give many people natural excuses not to come. It's not deliberate, but practical. Also, that's the earliest date the guitarist can arrive from Holland.

There were so many pieces we could and want to play. So many combinations of instruments. So many possibilities, but not enough time!

It's exciting for me personally to finally perform in a trio with strings. I had asked the Dutch composer Heleen Verleur if we could debut her tango trio. It's a long piece featuring the piano above the cello and violin parts. After requesting for the music, I realised that I had underestimated the difficulty. The piano part was not easy at all, for its octaves, syncopation of the two's against the three's, and the runs.

I had also underestimated Beethoven's trios. When the cellist first gave me the album of six Beethoven trios, I thought all six were too classical sounding. I wanted something more delicious and exotic. Played on its own, the piano part was not interesting. But played in a trio with the violin and cello, Beethoven comes alive.

We decided to open with Beethoven's piano trio number 2 as a warm-up. In each of the three sections of the programme, there were well-known and relatively unknown pieces. The first section corresponded to the first movement of a piece - the theme. The special piece here was Bruch's Romanze for viola and piano. I just love that piece! Our guest singers were guests of the cellist and violist. The male-female duet of Purcell's "Lost is My Quiet" to a guitar accompaniment took me back in time.

After a short break, we began the second movement with a series of siciliennes. These were to add to last year's Sicilienne Christmas concert. Faure's Sicilienne, originally written for cello and piano, was the best known of the three. The second movement is typically the slow movement. We selected slow pieces such as Massenet's Thais Meditation and the Theme from Schindler's List. The latter I chose to remember my friends whose deaths left their families without closure. At Christmas, the month of their passing away, I want to honour them.

Pachelbel's Canon in D for violin, cello, and piano ended part two. We broke for food and hot drinks. By now we're fully relaxed.

The final movement - part three - was full of dances to celebrate this festive holiday season. After two pieces for cello and piano, we were joined by violin in the highlight of the evening - Verleur's tango trio. The audience loved it so much that they asked for an encore, despite it being the longest piece in the programme.

"Is the composer from Argentina?" asked one of the guests. No, she is Dutch. Ah, but she has such a good grasp of the tango. Yes, she is a very good composer, who just became a mother of twin girls. Because she's a pianist herself, she writes interesting music for the piano part. And I enjoy playing her music immensely.

As moderator for the concert, I introduced the performers and the pieces. The composers led such interesting lives, according to my research for the programme. Today we played pieces of two live Dutch composers - Heleen Verleur and Robert Bekkers. There were four French composers and three French guests. One Italian composer (Vivaldi) and one Italian guest. Three German composers and one German guest.

The concert ended at sundown. Like other home concerts, suddenly it was over. But it left me with a great feeling - I was finally able to share this music with others, except it's so much more fun to play them than to listen and observe!

22 December 2002 Sunday

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Anne Ku
writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.