Duo excelled on strings

The Calvert Turner Duo, who played for Clitheroe Concerts Society
The Calvert Turner Duo, who played for Clitheroe Concerts Society

After the excitement of the Northern Brass Quintet in the first concert of 2011, Clitheroe Concerts Society knew that its next concert would have to be different, of very high quality and of considerable interest.

The Calvert Turner Duo certainly fulfilled those requirements and much beyond. A cello/harp duo is a comparatively rarity, but as the harp has the ability to imitate the sound of a piano, a harpsichord and even a guitar, the choice of music is surprisingly large.

The concert started with two movements from J. S. Bach’s Viola da Gamba Sonata, in front of a large audience including children who were learning either instrument. Then came Rowena and Eleanor’s own composition, “Scottish Melody”, based on folk songs, celebrating their roots. This was followed by Saint-Saens’ Aquarium and Le Cygne from “Carnival of the Animals”.

At each piece, either Rowena or Eleanor gave a background to the music, often adding amusing anecdotes. Le Grand Tango from the Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla was next. The first half of the concert concluded with Ravi Shankar’s Sonata No1 for Cello and Harp. This was a substantial piece of music, written in the form of a Raga, starting slowly and increasing speed throughout. The cross-rhythms between to cello and harp were fascinating.

After the five countries represented in the first half, the international theme continued. First pieces by Béla Bartok: “Three Hungarian Folksongs” and “Rumanian Folk Dances”, then switching to Wales with a beautiful and atmospheric piece by John Metcalf, “Castle Dolbadarn”, inspired by Turner’s painting, but conjuring up the castle ruins in all sorts of weather. A Russian writing in the Spanish style followed: “Serenade Espagnole”, by Glazunov; then another Piazzolla piece, “Oblivion”.

A quiet mutter was heard from one the audience before the last item: “I just don’t believe it... it’s not possible,” was the general reaction when Vittorio Monti’s “Czardas” was announced. This piece is very well known and often chosen by flamboyant violinists to demonstrate their skill, but on the less agile cello? We need not have worried, it was superbly played!

The clapping was prolonged and an encore of the beautiful “Song of the Birds” by Pablo Casals was played. This was a triumphant end to a visit to Clitheroe by these talented musicians which started badly when they were delayed for over an hour just a mile-or-so from the venue by a road accident. As an indication of the audience’s appreciation, a record number of tickets were sold on the internet prior to the concert and a record number of CDs sold on the night.

The next concert will be at 7-30 p.m. on April 6th, at the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Sixth Form Centre in York Street. The programme by Brazilian-born pianist Clélia Iruzun surveys Chopin’s work in the first half and then switches to Latin-American composers after the interval. To find out more or to buy tickets, visit www.clitheroeconcerts.org or phone 01200 424577 or 01200 423474, or pay on the door.