Concert review

Kristiana Ignatjeva (Cello), Alison Rhind (Piano)

21st October 2019

When performers change their programmes, let alone their accompanist in this instance, there are always grouches – like me – who mourn the loss of a familiar or loved piece of music.

The young ‘cellist Kristiana Ignatjeva retained but one, the final, piece of her original ‘set’ and bravely put it first. Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo Capriccioso is a rarely heard work of simple construction, made up of two repeated and contrasting sections, starting with a typical, bitter-sweet melody launching into a fiendishly fast and demanding passage, all briefly repeated. Alison Rhind also proved from the outset an accomplished and sensitive accompanist in this unusual piece. Kabalevsky’ substantial sonata was an equally unknown quantity to the substantial audience and found determined advocates in the two players, who clearly enjoyed its Prokofiev-like challenges.

Alison Rhind introduced Elgar’s ‘cello concerto, pointing out that using a piano reduction was quite usual in the days before the proliferation of professional orchestras. As a professional accompanist she has also had her fair share of rehearsing with soloists in this way.

Once again, in this well-known and compact concerto the range of expression and boldness of both musicians was evident throughout. The piano accompaniment brought a refreshing clarity to the piece; it also leaves the soloist nowhere to hide! The freshness of this performance held our attention from the start; it was quite simply superb.

From the ‘nobilmente’ of Elgar, we were treated to a more playful, skittish Capriccio by the (adopted) American Lukas Foss. This quirky piece made a nice contrast, requiring a light touch, which again we heard to great effect. A very appreciative audience was finally treated to an encore which Alison Rhind rightly described as a little gem, a Romance by Arensky.

Kristiana is a most worthy and talented beneficiary of the Countess of Munster Musical Trust; in sum, this was a perfect evening of excellent music-making, successfully bringing to life a well-known and respected masterpiece and allowing us grouches to be pleasantly surprised by the unfamiliar.

Charles Ritchie

Updated on 25th April 2020
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