Hammers and Horsehair: Period Pieces for Square Piano and Cello
Chanel Arts Centre, Motueka, Saturday 15 September 2016
Reviewed by Ruth Allison in Nelson Mail, 22 September 2016
With their evening tailcoats, vests, wide silk cravats and polished shoes Douglas Mews and Robert Ibell cut a dashing duo on the stage.
Accompanying them a square piano built in 1843 and a splendid 18th century cello, a number of low lit lamps and the evening was set for a mid-19th century drawing room recital in the small but acoustically perfect Chanel Arts Centre. But don’t be fooled by this apparently relaxed and conversational setting. These two gentlemen gave a fine, and technically accomplished performance.
Much of the audience missed Douglas’s delightful playing of Mozart’s 12 Variations of Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman K.265 in their enthusiasm to get a seat and catch up with their neighbours. But perhaps this was part of the plan, friends and family gathering in the evening to be entertained.
What followed was a chatty introduction to the two instruments and an invitation to come at interval and afterwards to see them up close and witness among other things the Victorian signatures written on the inside of the keys of the young members of the family who had once owned the piano.
Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words in D major demonstrated how much beauty could be extracted from these instruments. Beethoven’s moody and virtuosic Sonata in F gave both performers an opportunity to show off their considerable talents.
It was a pleasure to listen to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 10 played with a lightness and delicacy afforded by this type of piano. It was also a pleasure to hear the mellifluous tone of the cello particularly in the Sonata in G major by Breval.
This was an endearing and fully satisfying evening with two amiable and superb musicians.