Marcio da Silva is such a tour de force in the local music scene it is difficult to accept that there are times when even he will fall ill.
He was certainly present with us on Saturday but his voice was suffering and in the event he was only able to sing one cycle – the briefly moving Le Bestiaire of Francois Poulenc.
As a result of Marcio’s difficulties the whole evening was gently reordered but such was the quality of the playing I doubt if anyone would have complained.
Pianist Andre Dolabella had flown in that morning from Germany but seemed bright as a button throughout. He opened with his own arrangement of Debussy’s Prelude A L’Apres-Midi D’Un Faune - delightfully impressionistic and setting a standard for the whole of the evening – clear, wistful and engaging. Clarinettist Boyan Ivanov then joined him for Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie. Written originally as a test piece for the Paris Conservatoire, it is fiercely difficult but its gentle opening and exultant climax were more than easily encompassed in Ivanov’s deft handling.
After the Poulenc song cycle the first half ended with Debussy’s familiar Suite Bergamasque setting the quintessential beauty of Clair De Lune within the context of the more austere baroque flavoured movements.
After the interval we heard Saint-Saens’ romantically charged Sonata for clarinet and piano which moves from the heady textures of the opening movement to the playful Allegro animato and the lovely fluidity of the final Molto allegro. The evening ended with Poulenc’s Sonata for clarinet and piano, a favourite of Boyan Ivanov, and obviously so in the loving detail he brought to his reading. The florid jazzy rhythms of the finale reflect the work’s first performer, Benny Goodman, but this is a work which sat very comfortably within the spacious acoustic of Christ Church.
If the size of the audience seemed to reflect the outside temperature rather than the enthusiasm of the welcome, I am sure numbers will pick up strongly as this fine season progresses. The next concert is on Saturday February 23 when the Chamber Choir and Baroque ensemble will give an all Bach programme again in Christ Church. By Brian Hick.