‘Celebration by “5@1st” Reply

A Celebration Concert by ‘5 @ the First’

Review by Judith Caldwell

Yesterday, Rachel Mercer & Angela Park offered a free Celebration concert to all those who had supported them through the year. The afternoon began with the Adagio and Allegro opus 70 written by Robert Schumann, an energetic piece with rich tones that showcased the considerable talents of this duo.

The balance of the first half was taken up with recent works by extremely talented Canadian composers.  The first work was the allegro moderato movement from Sonata  by William Rowson.  This is the first movement of three which will be recorded by Rachel and Angela at the Glenn Gould studio this summer.  It has an heroic beginning then some playful passages with lovely melody lines.  I felt there were hints of Gershwin in places, especially in some of the faster passages. Mr Rowson was in the audience for this premier of his work.
Next was a plaintive, mournful piece built up from an original single note  It was titled ‘I Thirst’; part of the seven last words of Jesus Christ.  The composer Mark Nerenberg wrote it to exemplify the universal struggle of life which gives existence meaning. Last in this group was ‘Starsail’ by Kevin Lau.  He wrote this to express our journey home.  It was exciting with very difficult rhythm changes and reminiscent of the music for ‘Crouching Tiger’ – a piece also written for cello.
The entire second half of the concert was devoted to Sonata in G minor Opus 19 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  It is in four movements ranging from the dramatic. brooding opening; to the short, intense allegro scherzando;  an andante full of crescendi and ending with the allegro mosso which almost seemed to stop several times.
The Mercer-Park duo was recently awarded funding to record at Glenn Gould Studio where they will tape their 2nd CD.  In 2009 Mercer won the Canadian Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition affording her the use of the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius cello which she will use for the recording before she must return it in August.

The final concert in the Five at the First series will be held on Sunday, May 27th, 3pm at The First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn St S,  Hamilton,  it features sitar, bass and cello  &  titled ‘For the Love of Music’.

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