The final concert in the 5 at The First series for the 2011/12 season was entitled ‘For the Love of Music’ and featured a truly unusual combination of instruments: – Rachel Mercer on cello; Joseph Phillips on double bass and sitarist Anwar Khurshid; a rare concert indeed. The afternoon began with Rachel and Joe playing Duet in D major by Rossini, a truly gorgeous piece of music in three movements. It began with an allegro that was so playful and so much fun that the audience could not resist laughing and applauding at the end of it. This was followed by a rich, complex andante molto with lovely long melody lines that invited one into the experience. The piece ended with a lively allegro with melodies traded back and forth between the instruments. The duo clearly enjoyed playing this piece just as much as we enjoyed hearing it.
The first half of the program was completed by Khurshid playing traditional Indian music on the sitar. He is a brilliant musician who played hauntingly beautiful music alone at first and later accompanied by Phillips providing percussion with the double bass. The music began slowly and became progressively livelier and more insistent, leading to lots of toe tapping.
Post intermission, all three performers played three compositions of Mr Khurshid together. The first was slow and ethereal with the melody moving between instruments. Again it was obvious that the performers enjoyed playing this music. The second piece had a more twangy country & western flavour with the sitar sounding less Eastern. The third and final piece was cheerful and lyrical with a great beat which had the audience once again tapping their toes. It was actually tempting to get up and dance for joy. This was a fun final concert which displayed the love these musicians have for the art of making music and they took the audience along with them for a very enjoyable ride.
The 2012/2013 season opens in September, this critic is looking forward to it.