Audience stunned by virtuosity

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The recent poor weather did not deter the audience for a concert by Emily Andrews on flute and David Massey on guitar at teh Swallow Theatre recently.

Their programme was varied, with the first item a group of four pieces by Jacques Ibert, arranged from his “Histoires” for piano. From the outset, the audience realised they were in for a treat, as these light-hearted pieces showed off the brilliance of the performance by both players. The rich tones of the alto flute, combined with the mellow sound of the guitar, enhanced the melodic themes of the four pieces, The Little White Donkey, The Old Beggar, The Balkis Procession and Under the Table.

A group of six Romanian folk dances by Bela Bartok followed, which demonstrated the precision of rhythmic complexities Bartok used to arrange so many folk tunes of Hungary. The lightness of the playing by both musicians gave one a real sense of dance and movement.

Heitor Villa-Lobos was perhaps Brazil’s best-known composer, and we heard a short piece, Distribution of Flowers, which reflected the sounds of the forest both in melody and rhythm, the guitar being used occasionally as a percussion instrument.

The most substantial piece of the first half was an arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major, K330. This was played with brilliance and clarity of tone throughout, and left the audience amazed at the ability of a guitar and flute to represent so perfectly music written for a completely different instrument. The whole effect was more that of a duo concertante for flute and guitar, both parts being played with amazing skill and bravura throughout, with great sensitivity in the second movement contrasting with the virtuosic brilliance of the finale.

The second half opened with a passacaglia from a Handel harpsichord sonata arranged for guitar solo. Throughout we were able to hear the ostinato bass line contrasted with the embroidered melodic line.

A group of three folk tunes followed, played with obvious enjoyment of the traditional tunes, Molly Malone, Loch Lomond and Dance to Your Daddy.

The next piece was one written specially for the duo by Scott Lygate, an Ayrshire clarinettist and composer. The music required an additional four strings to be fixed to the guitar giving a rich deep sound. The composition, Journey Home, is portraying thoughts and feelings about travelling home after a journey, and although there was no specific Scottish melody there, the piece was undoubtedly Scottish in essence, with a modern Celtic flavour.

The finale was an amazing performance of Mauro Giuliani’s Gran Duo Concertante op.85. Giuliani was a friend of Beethoven, and known in his time as the greatest virtuoso guitarist. The Gran Duo Concertante requires a virtuoso performance, both on guitar and flute, and was brilliantly played by our two performers.

There is no doubt that the Andrews Massey Duo will be heard of much more in the future, and we hope that they will make a return visit to The Swallow.