Above Jane Rutter. Featured photo- Elena Kats-Chernin and Tamara Anna Cislowska.
This concert was latest in the terrific series Live at Lunch, as coordinated by Jane Rutter.
Rutter’s guests this time were renowned pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska and composer Elena Kats-Chernin. Russian classic favourites arranged for four hands and flute were interspersed with works by Kats-Chernin. The majority of the works were played as a four-handed version on the shiny black Steinway gleaming lustrously on the platform as Rutter accompanied on the flute.
Rutter was in white with a red stole , Kats-Chernin wore a black outfit with bronze detail and Cislowska wore a wonderful outfit of black velvet trousers Russian in style and with gold detail and a black top. All three took turns introducing the various works to the audience.
The concert opened with the slinky, fiery Slicked Back Tango by Kats-Chernin, followed by her rippling, delicate, crystalline and sparkling Dance of the Paper Umbrellas. At one point, the piece sounded like raindrops were dancing.
We were then treated to a powerful, sultry and hypnotic version of Ravel’s Bolero with its relentless repeated rhythm. It felt a bit like Rutter was drowned out a little towards the end with the rather overwhelming piano.
Next piece was a suite of three dances from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, – a sharp, spiky version of The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, a slow, languidly flowing and pulsating Arabian dance, and a breathlessly fast tumbling and cascading Russian Dance with Rutter accompanying on piccolo and not the flute.
Next came Kats-Chernin’s shimmering, tumultuous Vocalise that surged, ebbed and flowed like the sea.
Rachmaninov’s piece, however, as played by Cislowska and Rutter, was lyrical, featuring a dialogue between the two instruments with the flute soaring.
Cislowska then talked a little about Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 6 which apparently has the largest passage of octaves in the classical repertoire, and is renowned for being fiendishly difficult to play. Cislowska gave an exceptional, powerful and passionate performance that culminated in a fiery conclusion.
Kats-Chernin’s Russian Toccatta had a quiet, contemporary sound with its rippling cascades, very fast passages and a breathless finish. Her exquisite Eliza Aria twinkled like stars and was performed with enormous heart.
The Russian Rag, also by Kats-Chernin, followed, with its striking rhythms, and a hint of a Gershwin influence.
The audience reaction was such that an encore was demanded – a very fast exuberant version of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, again from The Nutcracker suite. We then had to leave for lunch, and to buy the new Kats-Chernin CD entitled Butterflying.
The Live At Lunch concert Russian Rhapsodies : Four Hands and The Flute took place at the Concourse Chatswood on Wednesday 11th May.