What makes a concert memorable is the quality it offers - the excellence of the artists' performances, the surprise of hearing something new, and a certain charisma of the performers themselves. Then there is the dramatic element of presentation and choreography. All these were present in abundance at both venues of the most recent concerts presented by the Kolkata Classics Club.
The musical presentations on September 23 at the ballroom of the Oberoi Grand and on September 29 at Kalamandir, by Cynthia Watson (oboe), George Pope (flute), and Jennifer Heemstra (piano) delighted audiences. The two programmes consisted of selections not frequently heard here. Of course, the combination of the flute, the oboe and the piano is not a common one.
The concert at the Oberoi began with the contemporary Suite Bourgeoise for Oboe, Flute and Piano followed by the baroque Trio Sonata by J.J. Quantz, a movement from the Oboe Sonata by Camille Saint-Saëns, the Flute Sonata by Francis Poulenc, the very American music of William Grant Still in the Miniatures and finally the Duo Brilliant on Rossini's William Tell by J.E. Demersseman & F.C. Berthélemy. The intriguing contrasts of style and the wizardry of all three musicians served as an excellent introduction to the concerts that were to follow on September 29 at Kalamandir.
The auditorium held more than a thousand school children during the morning concert, where Heemstra, Watson and Pope, as usual, conducted an interactive session with the young audience, explaining the music and the instruments used, and then playing to them. The oboe is a rare instrument to be seen on the Calcutta stage, although we do have in our midst an excellent performer and teacher of the instrument in Vache Tadevosian, who teaches at a well known school here. Tadevosian also joined the three musicians in the third movement from the Trio by Vivaldi where he played the cor anglais or the English horn.
At Kalamandir, the programme included the haunting Gabriel's Oboe by Ennio Morricone, from the film, The Mission; the enigmatic Charanga for solo flute by Michael Colquhoun was an exploration of the instrument's range and musical pyrotechnics, and displayed Pope's amazing virtuosity. The keenest musicians of the city were in attendance that evening, and the artists excelled and outdid themselves. Watson's pure and lucid oboe performances, Pope's wonderful flute playing and the brilliant piano accompaniment by Heemstra made the evening magical. The artists' spectacularly choreographed entrances, beautiful Indian clothes and graceful commentary in the spacious Kalamandir auditorium will be remembered for a long time to come.