Review: Pianistic bliss in Wesley concert

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THE WESLEY Music Foundation now stands in high regard as a premier music education centre in Canberra.  Its output belies its shoestring budget.

L. Rumsey and R. Creek
Andrew Rumsey, left,  and Joshua Creek.
Two young Canberra pianists recognise its worth, too, and combined their formidable talent with their love of performing and relaxed style to put together an attractive concert program, which also featured some even younger up-and-coming musicians.

On top of that, Joshua Creek and Andrew Rumsey said the Foundation could keep the proceeds of the concert.  What a pity Canberra could not recognise all those qualities and fill the intimate Wesley Music Centre.

In a concert ranging from Liszt and Beethoven to Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky and SaintSaëns to Carl Vine, Creek and Rumsey were entertaining and personable, even rolling up the sleeves to set the stage for other performers.

Creek opened with a spirited performance of Franz Liszt’s “Concert Etude in D Flat Major”.  His playing, from memory, was assured and majestic.

Rumsey’s offering of Chopin’s “Prelude in C Minor” was just as assured, playing the big piece with all the authority that the romantic era demands.

Their guest artists were a reminder of the depth of talent that we have in this city.

Guitarist Campbell Diamond was enthralling with his strong technique and expressive playing.  His performance of “Fantaisie Hongroise” by Hungarian composer Johann Kaspar Mertz, himself an accomplished guitarist, saw Diamond’s left hand flying from one end of the guitar neck to the other, setting and playing chords and individual notes, while the fingers on his right were busy playing beautifully controlled melodies, runs and chords mostly at allegro, even con fuoco.  It was as visually appealing as it was musically.

The segment by cellist, Anneliese McGee-Collett, featured the beautiful but mournful “Aprés un Rêve” by French composer, Gabriel Fauré, based on a poem about dreams of elopement followed by a sad awakening and a wish to return to the “mysterious night”.  McGee-Collett captured those moods with style and elegance.

Their third guest was another young guitarist, Ciaran Edwards-McKeown, who played his own arrangement (for guitar) of Bach’s “Suite in C Minor, BWV 997”, written for lute.  Although a little tentative in the opening movement, Edwards-McKeown settled nicely into the delightful Gigue and then the Double, which he described as the same as the Gigue, just with twice as many notes.  His playing was sensitive, with some very nice expression, and he maintained well the demanding rhythms.

There were other pieces in the concert, too, perhaps most notably Carl Vine’s “Anne Landa Preludes No 1 and 2”, named, appropriately for this concert, for Landa’s reputation in encouraging young pianists.  Creek’s performance drew well-deserved and enthusiastic applause.

In closing the concert, Creek and Rumsey sat together at the piano for a duet arrangement of SaintSaëns’ “Carnival of the Animals”.   The work, played in its entirety, featured some pretty impressive keyboard gymnastics, tight timings and big dynamics.  Both pianists achieved a good balance of all of those elements as well as between each other.  Most of all, they had fun, even “mucking up” the famous scales in the “Pianists” movement but finishing together nonetheless.

This was a very enjoyable concert, delightfully finishing off, for this reviewer, a week of pianistic bliss, starting with the incomparable artistry of Angela Hewitt, presented by Musica Viva, and continuing with a very Russian final of the Southern Highlands International Piano Competition.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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