This week we were treated to a concert of highlights from last term’s Piano Duet Competition. This was a special event in itself as we celebrated the competition’s tenth anniversary, and featured new duets specially composed for Oakham students.
Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance, op. 72, no.2, opened the concert, played sensitively by Ethel and Jessica. They captured the contrasting characters of each section, and their control of the inner voices was really musical. A light-hearted Serenade by Old Oakhamian, Adam Hebditch, followed. Helen and Georgina’s performance was full of charm, and they clearly enjoyed playing this waltz together.
Charlie and Lily also chose a piece specially commissioned this year. Dream Sequence by Alan Thomas called for the All Saints’ piano first to be ‘prepared’: two books placed upon the strings of the instrument transformed its timbre, so that when struck they resounded more like an Eastern-European Cimbalom. The resulting music was hypnotic and ethereal, incorporating glissandi played inside the piano, and occasional knocks on its wooden cheeks.
From avant-garde to pastiche, David Hill’s whimsical paraphrase of Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1, and music by Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, was simply titled Apologies. Lizzie and Bethany seemed to relish the lyrical quality of the music; it was truly a performance fluent in French!
Beth and Morgan came forward for the last piano duet of the recital, the first of Schumann’s Oriental Pictures, a work inspired by a set of Arabic poetry. The turbulent first section gradually gave way to a stately hymn, before returning again as stormy as before. This was a mature performance, exploiting all the richness of tone available from the Romantic piano.
Well done to all of our pianists, and their 100 fingers!