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Alban Gerhardt and Anne-Marie McDermott

Manchester Chamber Concerts Society

RNCM Concert Hall, 25 January 2016

An intriguing evening of piano and cello music – these instruments being in many respects the perfect complement.

The programme included Britten and Piazzolla (the latter with a tango, naturally) and four American composers: Barber and Bernstein, Gershwin and (a new name for me) Lukas Foss. All were very different in mood and texture: Bernstein’s Three Meditations, for example, were contemplative and elegiac, whilst Gershwin’s Three Preludes had a lambent touch and delightful melodies. There are those lovely blue notes in Gershwin’s music always, you just can’t escape them. They are his natural idiom.

Bernstein’s Cello Sonata in C, originally written for Rostopovich, would be my personal highlight of the evening, if I had to pick. Mainly because it showed the surprising range of sounds the cello is capable of. Not just the dark melancholy tones we (or I) tend to associate with it, but also a parsed sweetness, a pleasing screeching. An unusual requirement of this piece was for the cellist to play pizzicato for the whole of the second movement, which was quite a feat.

This was a very interesting and instructive concert, apart from the sheer enjoyment that it gave. It was one of those concerts where you learn new things: an enticing sampler, a spark to curiosity, a starting point for exploration. Alban Gerhardt (cello) and (piano) coped with the technical demands of the diverse programme admirably.

This was about as good as music can be.

Alban Gerhardt’s website is here.

Anne-Marie McDermott’s website is here.

Details of forthcoming MCCS concerts can be found here.