REVIEW: Alex Barnes and Anna Croad, Clitheroe Concerts Society

Alex Barnes and Anna Croad, who performed for Clitheroe Concerts Society. Photo: Ken Geddes.

Alex Barnes and Anna Croad, who performed for Clitheroe Concerts Society. Photo: Ken Geddes.

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Review: Alex Barnes and Anna Croad perform for Clitheroe Concerts Society.

The Clitheroe Concerts Society was congratulated after its Summer Concert for presenting such an adventurous programme of chamber music, spanning 300 years, but concentrating on recently written and mainly folk influenced music. Some pieces used electronic enhancement and a world premier started the second half.

The evening started with a very brief AGM when the Mayor of Clitheroe, Coun. Kevin Horkin, was elected as the Society’s President.

The existing committee and officers were re-elected and a brief change to the constitution now allows the committee to appoint Honorary Vice-Presidents.

Alex Barnes (cello) and Anna Croad (violin) then opened the concert with a selection of J. S. Bach’s Two Part Inventions, setting the scene for the English composer Graham Waterhouse’s “Pas de Deux” (2011). The composer described the music as “two dancers, sometimes in sympathy and graceful, sometimes provoking each other and jerky.” Like much of Waterhouse’s work it has folk influences.

Even more obviously folk influenced was the third piece, “Appalachia Waltz” (1996), by American classical composer and Bluegrass fiddler Mark O’Connor. This has been recorded by the internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The folk tune seemed to come into and out of the music like smoke drifting from a camp fire. The version played was transcribed by Alex himself.

Next was “Mirrors in the Mirror” (Spiegel im Spiegel), written in 1978 by the Estonian composer Arvo Part. Originally written for piano and violin, and again transcribed by Alex, this used electronic sustaining on both instruments, producing an ethereal sound, almost as if played by a quartet.

The first half concluded with a robust contrast: Mussorgsky’s “Night on a Bare Mountain” arranged by Alex from a piano version by Rimsky Korsakov.

The music has again folk influences, this time from Russian tales.

There were just two works in the second half, totally contrasting, but continuing the theme. The world premier of Alex and Anna’s “Odyssea” took a slightly wry musical look at the modern fashion of cruising.

There were the elements of the Greek myth; the sounds of the sea and of seagulls and the waves, but this was over a pre-recorded tape background of the ship’s siren, swing music and many of the background distractions which come and go with a cruise.

The exceptionally clever thing about the tape was that it was all composed and performed by Anna and Alex, merged together to complement the live music. Quite fascinating!

The concert was concluded by the wonderfully tuneful Zoltan Kodaly “Duo Sonata”, a substantial work in three movements based on Hungarian folk music, written in 1905 and very much in the manner of traditional chamber music.

The audience of around eighty responded enthusiastically and during the applause, Anna charmingly gave Alex a kiss on the cheek.

This just seemed to sum up a magical evening!

This concert will be talked about and remembered for a very long time.

KEN GEDDES