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‘Water Music’ in the Burgh Hall

Our weather seems to have recently suffered from water overload, but this in no way deterred those attending Cowal Music Club's concert on 30 October given by the Sequoia Duo, Alice Rickards (violin) & Sonia Cromarty(cello).

This proved to be an intriguing afternoon enhanced by a soundtrack and images, all based on a watery theme, that of a raindrop’s progress “from its appearance in the sky to its arrival in the sea”, and entitled “Water Music”, but in no way reminiscent of Handel’s music of that name!

Instead we were lured on by 20 different pieces of music, 7 of which were new commissions from contemporary Scottish composers, as well as a short work by a very young Sibelius, and five Bach Inventions and the G Major Cello Suite, which acted rather like a common re-occurring linking thread throughout the performance. In fact the first of these began seamlessly following the Sibelius ‘Water Droplets’ piece (all pizzicato and quiet).

The progress of the raindrop/water was divided into sections such as “Rain”, “Rivers & Lochs”, and “Sea”. The whole event lasted just over an hour, non-stop, and the large audience appeared quite fascinated by the many special effects which were to be heard, including harmonics, glissandi, bowed percussive effects, arpeggios, as well as double-stopping and sul ponticello sounds (playing close to the bridge).

Especially memorable were the whale imitations, (with the supporting soundtrack) on the violin & cello, the recorded sounds of the sea, “End of Rain and Clear Sky” by Alastair Savage, “Loch Broom” by Mairearad Green, “Fisherman’s Prayer” by Chris Stout, to mention only a few. And re-occurring were also highly atmospheric melodies relating to Scots traditional music, which seemed especially appropriate.

The atmospheric photography by Beka Globe (shown on a screen beside the performers) contributed an added visual focus to the whole, and scenes on coasts with beaches. headlands, and turbulent seas featured as well as some shots of St Kilda and Shetland.

This award-winning duo seemed very comfortable performing this project/work, and performed with enviable competence and ease. Both Alice and Sonia are known to enjoy championing Scottish-based composers, and both are well known in Scottish orchestras such as the BBC SSO and RSNO.

The audience greatly appreciated the performance, demonstrating this with warm sustained applause for the Duo at the end.

Cowal Music Club’s next concert is scheduled for Sunday November 20th, at 14.30, when the wind ensemble ‘Arunda’ will perform.

Philip Norris


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