I don’t write many reviews (well perhaps just the occasional book or sheet music review!), but having returned last night from the first Rhinegold Live Rush Hour Recital, I feel compelled to talk about this wonderful new venture. The Rush Hour concert series was established by Rhinegold Publishing, one of the UK’s leading music publishers, and yesterday’s concert was held at Conway Hall in London. It’s notoriously tricky to get any concert series off the ground, but Rhinegold began in style, providing well-established concert artists (a prerequisite) with a highly innovative Q&A session with the artists afterwards.
The idea behind the series is to make Classical music very accessible to everyone, therefore the concerts are extremely informal affairs (the stage wasn’t used at all for example, allowing the artists to be as near to the audience as possible) and the subsequent Question and Answer session broke with the traditional formality of a recital, giving the audience a glimpse of the personality (or in this case, personalities) behind the music making.
The evening began at 6.30pm with a drinks reception (which will be a regular feature at all the concerts). This inaugural recital was given by renowned ‘cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and his wife Jiaxin, also a ‘cellist. They performed A Tale of Two Cellos, accompanied superbly by pianist Pam Chowhan (all pictured above). Two ‘Cellos are rarely heard together in one concert, and so this was going to be an unusual performance from the outset. Julian spoke between each piece, explaining how they had devised the programme, and how they had to ’embark on some musical detective work’ locating various works for two ‘cellos as well as arranging many vocal duets by various composers.
The programme was devised to be audience friendly and each piece was short, yet still managing succinctly to encapsulate a whole gamut of emotions. A wide variety of composers were explored; from Henry Purcell and Vivaldi, to Avro Pärt, William and Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as lighter works such as Barnby’s Sweet and Low. The ‘cello sounds blended seamlessly and I particularly enjoyed the broad dynamic colour and tonal variety employed, which gave the renditions character and exquisite punctuation. The Q&A was conducted by Keith Clarke, Consultant Editor of Classical Music magazine and was a light hearted affair, with all three performers contributing vociferously (see photo below).
Future performances include recitals by conductor Andrew Litton (who will play transcriptions of Oscar Peterson’s music on the piano, all transcribed by pianist Steven Osborne) which takes place on June 2nd, pianist Charles Owen (who will perform Bach’s Partitas) on September 9th, followed by singer Mary Bevan and Richard Peirson, on November 10th. In the present climate of music cut backs, it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy live music in a lovely, historical setting performed by first class artists with a pre-concert drink, all for free. Rhinegold has set a high benchmark at Conway Hall, I look forward to hearing the whole series. You can find out all about the Rush Hour concerts and Rhinegold Publishing here.