THE soothing harmonies of cello and piano filled Richmond House Music Room on Sunday at the Carnival Concert featuring renowned cellist Berthine van Schoor accompanied by Annalien Ball on piano.
Van Schoor introduced the first two pieces on which she played solo, Two Capricci for solo cello (No 1 and 5) by Giuseppe Dall’Abaco, which had never before been played in South Africa.
“They were undiscovered for a very long time,” she said. “They have never been published. The only composition can be found in a manuscript on a website.”
She said she had to decipher the notes as sometimes the tail of the note was on the wrong side.
Composed in the late Baroque style, the Capricci demonstrate the versatility of the instrument in the hands of a talented performer like Van Schoor.
Ball joined in on piano on the next two pieces, Apres un Reve by Gabriel Faure and Habanera by Maurice Ravel.
The Faure piece was very melancholy and a beautiful collaboration of cello and piano. Both pieces were originally composed for solo voice and piano.
Van Schoor said Ravel’s piece needed no introduction. It was also a lovely rendition.
The first half also featured a composition by contemporary South African composer Mokale Koapeng, who wrote the piece for Van Schoor for her first concert tour to India in 2007.
“He’s widely known as a choral composer. I have a way of twisting people’s arms to get them to write music for me,” Van Schoor said with a chuckle.
With staccato chords for cello and bouncy piano playing it did sound distinctly South African.
Finishing the first half of the concert was a piece by Ukrainian composer Nikolai Kapustin, called Nearly Waltz, which was quite complicated for both players, as Van Schoor said.
After an interval it was time for the concert theme piece, the well-known The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens.
Rob Crothall did a good job narrating the humorous text written by Phillip de Vos especially to go with the different segments of music. Many remembered the music from when they were children.
Usually performed by an orchestra, Van Schoor said they were reducing all these special effects to two instruments.
The tortoises segment was especially beautiful, the elephants jolly and the aquarium evocative of watching fish swim around behind the glass.
Then one could visualise birds of all kinds in flight in the birds segment. The swan section was very familiar, said and beautiful at the same time. It is the kind of music that would fit well with a poignant scene from a movie.
The finale was the most familiar, which brought a rousing ovation and calls for an encore. For the encore Ball and Van Schoor played an Indian piece they also performed in Grahamstown.