Day Nine: Bella, bella, bella….

Friday 8 Feb – from Korimako

One of the nicest aspects of being in Nelson for the festival is seeing the musicians taking walks, cycling or running along the riverbanks, strolling through town, and most of all going to each others’ concerts.  Yesterday as I walked to the School of Music I met Katie, cellist with the Penderecki Quartet.   She had just left the hairdressers (her opinion – very good), and I asked about their concert in an hour – yes she said, but I have to get some food first!

The Cathedral was virtually full for this 2pm performance, the last by the quartet alone.  Titled Italian Serenade, this concert began with appropriately gentle afternoon music.  Rachmaninov’s incomplete Quartet in G minor No 1 was a student work, which showed many of his later characteristic touches – beautiful melodies, and lush harmonies.

Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade followed.  Wolf was Slovenian, known most for his memorable lieder, and this is one of his few non-voice works. It’s short, and doesn’t show any particularly Italian characteristics, but it is romantic in style, with singing melodies.

The major work was Bartok’s Quartet No 5 which dates from 1934.  For this performance the two violinists, Jeremy Bell and Jerzy Kaplanek changed places.  Like several works by Bartok, this is in an arch form, with the two outer movements reflecting each other, with a similar pattern for the three central movements.  The atmosphere of the slower, intense second and fourth sections are lightened by the cheerful Scherzo with its Bulgarian folk rhythms.  Just before the quartet ends there’s an interruption – a cute little out-of-tune polka caught everyone’s attention.

Again this concert showed the stunning musicianship and collegiality of the Penderecki Quartet.  They will long be remembered in NZ, and they were rewarded by another standing ovation.

After the concert one of the local Italian Nonnas came towards me, arms outstretched saying over and over again “Bella, bella, bella….”.  She was quite overcome with emotion and pleasure, and so happy.

Let no one think that after such a great concert the quartet would have a bit of a rest.  Within half an hour they were at the School of Music giving a public masterclass with the Troubadour Quartet. 

Jeremy Bell inspiring the Troubadours - Jonathan Tanner, Annabel Drummond, Alice McIvor (Sophie Williams obscured)

Jeremy Bell inspiring the Troubadours – Jonathan Tanner, Annabel Drummond, Alice McIvor (Sophie Williams obscured)



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