Review by Judith Caldwell
Sandra Bohn, Rachel Desoer, Nadia Klein, Elspeth Poole, Rachel Mercer and Rebecca Morton are the Cello Bellas, or maybe they should be called the Sisterhood of the Travelling Cellos. They are a group of young musicians who are technically extremely good and who display an obvious love of their instrument and a great sense of fun.
On Saturday evening they played a Benefit concert to a sold out audience who obviously share their love of the cello.
There was a late cello teacher by the name of Ann Valentyne in Hamilton who either taught or taught with most of tonight’s performers and in the process managed to turn a large number of Hamiltonians onto the cello too.
The evening began with Poole playing the very familiar Suite No1 in G major – prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach, a work that produces a multi textured sound from a single instrument. It was a lovely lush beginning to the concert.
Next we had Morton and Bohn playing Cherubino’s aria from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. The cellos gave what is usually a soprano aria more depth and heft and made the love struck Cherubino sing with more gravity and pathos. Then Mercer, Morton and Desoer played Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise. This again is a familiar work & shows off the expressive qualities of the instrument with a gorgeous, full lower register.
A mood change and we had three songs by Duke Ellington which were jazzy, syncopated and fun, but far from easy!The first half wrapped up with Canada’s favourite piece of classical music – Pachelbel’s Canon played by all the Cello Bellas. The arrangement by Steven Sharp Nelson could be called the revenge of the cellists, usually the cello gets to play the eight note pattern over & over & over again but in this upbeat, modern version we had cellos playing the melody and having fun with staccato passages. There was even one part which consisted of a percussive beat while the melody only continued to play in one’s mind… different & great fun.
After intermission it was back to Bach with the Brandenburg Concerto No6 played by all six cellists. This is an intimate, intricate and very familiar piece and it sounded wonderful played by six cellos. Some must have been turned to a higher pitch as there seemed to be at least three different registers in play. Then the ladies let their hair down with a lively melodic piece by Coldplay and a raucous, dark and percussive piece of Nirvana.
The evening ended with two Latin pieces, a slow tango Cafetin de Buenos Aires by Mariano Mores which had difficult timing, and a steamy yet lively dance called Sonoroso during which Poole kept the beat on her cello.
The ladies got a well deserved standing ovation from a capacity crowd. The next concert in the 5 @the First series is on May 24th at First Unitarian Church in Hamilton and the next Cello Extravaganza is on October 19th at Compass Point Bible Church in Burlington.