28 September 2018


We had found two interesting choices for a lunch-time concert and dithered a little. The Band of the Grenadier Guards Clarinet Ensemble was playing free in Charlton House and that would have been amusing and colourful and a story to tell some mates in the Duntroon Band but the program seemed consciously light, at the entertaining end of the scale. No doubt it would have been stunningly capable, though. Instead we were pulled by the big names, Bach, Saint Saens and Mendelssohn played on cello and piano. In the end, this too was free (or by donation), in a fascinatingly aged church that I’d passed numerous times, St James’s (sic) Piccadilly, but not entered. To my eyes, brought up as Catholic, it appeared strangely Protestant inside with burial notices on walls and balconies and huge windows allowing the strangely sunny London weather to enter. Europe has just had a seriously unseasonably hot summer (climate change induced, no doubt) and this day was 18C and mostly clear and sunny. Thus the church was much lighter than normal. The performers were from the RCM (Royal College of Music): Ricardo Pes of North Italy and Kumi Matsuo from Japan. All very informal. Ricardo recorded with a Zoom H4N (I know it well!), spoke informally of pieces and teachers and discoveries of unpublished works. His three movements from Bach Cello suite no.3 up front were indicative, strongly spoken in his dialect, firm and expressive and intelligent. And sounding so strong/loud on a new instrument (Edgar Russ, Cremona, 2014). The program changed a little, so a Bach movement disappeared and a Penderecki was dropped and a theme of Italian composition was discussed, not least his teacher at Santa Cecilia, Giovanni Sollima and his father and a final Tarantella to finish. He said that’s apt. Kumi provided a delicious accompaniment, gazing on his playing at times and caressing the keys with such delicacy. We forget that the piano is a percussion instrument so touch changes tone. It was certainly evident here. Such a capable but informal concert. So did we make the right decision, Grenadier Guards or RCM? It’s an impossible choice but had to be made. Either way, this was low key but wonderful.

Ricardo Pes (cello) and Kumi Matsuo (piano) performed at St James’s Church Piccadilly for the Royal College of Music Lunchtime Recital Series.

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