03 August 2023

Light but

This was billed as light classical and it was that but my favourites were three film themes at the end of the concert.  They were Somewhere over the rainbow, Let's call the whole thing off and Moonriver.  Now, these aren't as complex as the Elgar and Massenet and others that preceded them (perhaps other than Fritz Kriesler), but the clarity of their structures and the simple inevitability of their melodies touched me.  And the way they were so well played, of course.  These were not improvised jazz renditions, but written scores, but played by some devastatingly capable players.  They were John Ma and Marie Searles.  John is better known for playing baroque on period instruments but he told me how punk and ska were influential in his younger life, so film mid-20th century film music seems not so out of field.  Apparently Marie was influenced by the Beatles (which I understand fully) so the glorious and outspoken accompaniment from late C19th onwards is also not inconceivable.  Perhaps the most amusing conceptually was variations on Happy Birthday in the style of Beethoven.  Who would'a thunk it?  And yet it's done.  But those film themes were lovely, delightfully and touchingly played with simple, known melodies of intro/verse/chorus.  John told the story of Moonriver being initially rejected when a listening party went unmoved, but then reinstated after considerable protestation from Audrey Hepburn.  See where it is now!  A classic theme from a classic movie.  Performed at a classic concert of great skills and beauty with a lovingly moderate conception.

John Ma (violin) and Marie Searles (piano) performed at Wesley.

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