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Summertime Soirée

by on 11 July 2019

Pacing, Pursuing and Passion

Summertime Soirée

with Amy Gould and David Harrod

Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, Hampton 6th July

a review by Ian Nethersell

A musical journey through time and style, past and present with some familiar favourites and some new discoveries …

1 Amy's soiree, waiting for the start

On a balmy summer’s evening on the banks of Old Father Thames we found ourselves lounging alongside a Grade 1 listed folly in Hampton. The Garrick Temple was built in 1756 as a tribute to a certain Mr William Shakespeare by the actor David Garrick, who made his name and success performing the works of the previously mentioned playwright in this, the perfect setting for some magical mid-summer happenings – and what a magical evening it was.

The history of chamber music stretches back to medieval times and as our talented duo opened with the melodic B2 Amy and David tuning uparoque sounds of Bach, in this setting it was very easy to imagine and experience how it might have been in the Georgian era, sitting in the parlour of a fine house listening to music being performed by a small number of musicians. I was transported by the smooth and flowing bowing of a cello whilst enjoying the authentic sounding representation of a harpsichord from David’s modern keyboard. Amy beautifully demonstrated the emotional range of her cello and Bach, journeying from a smooth, flowing legato into a bright skipping pace building to a strong allegro and ending with a restrained, almost tortured emotion straining to burst forth which I felt viscerally. And I always thought Bach was boring!

Following on with a theme of discovery, I was introduced to the work of Astor Piazzolla and his very appropriate piece A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The jazzy, almost Scott Joplin-esque style engendering the passion and fire in the Latin American people, and closing my eyes, images of people dancing the tango through the streets at Mardi Gras flooded my mind and filled my body as I felt myself swaying in my seat, struggling to restrain my fire. This fusion of jazz and classical styles was echoed in the conversation between the keyboard and cello as they performed their own dance, a connectedness and yet a separation which culminated in a pacing, a pursuing, a passion which may devour, fear yet excitement.

Continuing our journey towards the interval, Amy took us Sailing down the River in an effortless display of dexterity and technique, encompassing the multi-note, multi-style and multi-tonal playing required in Aaron Minsky’s Journey through America represented in etudes by the styles and themes of music evocative of an area.

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The second part of our evening opened again with Bach, his Sonata in G Minor. Amy seemed to take a while to get her fingers in flow but once there she was able to again demonstrate her dexterity and ability to create images. The first movement, flitted like two bees independently buzzing about on their own business, never resting, until the second movement where smooth legato engendered some rest and an almost internalised place. This was felt not only by Amy’s flowing technique but by a complete embodiment. It was a joy to be able to witness a musician so completely at one with a piece. In the third and final movement the pace quickened again and with it a form of conflict but without aggression, a conversation between light and dark, love and hate, joy and sadness. As the opposites drifted apart in the final moments there was tenderness, a coming together, a unity, an acceptance.

4 David at the KeyboardDavid then played a small interlude, Le Cahier Romand #3 by Arthur Honegger, another discovery for me which I have since become acquainted with. David played for himself, not for performance, not for ego, but for pleasure, and then it struck me, something I had always known but never realised; it is impossible to play music without emotion.

Throughout the remainder of the evening Amy and David continued to conjure pictures and feelings. The audience felt wonderment at the skill displayed in the incredibly difficult Fantasy by Anton Hegner which requires contrasting bowing and picking, through the evocative Harlem Nocturne by Hagen and Dick Rogers with images of a laid-back 40s strolling through Central Park.   Molly on the Shore by Percy Grainger, a favourite of mine, had great energy and invoked images of a maiden dancing freely over the fields and glens echoing the unrestrained freedom of the wind and spirit as it dances through the trees and across streams.

The final piece of the evening was a deeply rich and full embodiment of Summertime, the enduring standard from the versatile genius that was George Gershwin, our musicians managing to capture and convey the richness and emotion.

Rather than leaving on a dour note though we were given yet another Gershwin to see us home. I Got Rhythm, full of life and vitality, giving us the boost to skip home! On this enjoyable evening our duo definitely did have rhythm, and skill, and passion, a passion that was also shared and conveyed by the welcome and care of the custodians and volunteers of Garrick’s Temple.

Ian Nethersell
July 2019

Photography by Alison Gibson and Lewis Lloyd

From → Music, Reviews

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