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Cellophony &
Jessica Zhu

Jessica Zhu piano
Haydn Piano Sonata in Eb; Liszt Vallée d’Obermann; Rachmaninov Variations on a theme of Corelli; Falla Fantasia Baetica

Cellophony Richard Birchall Matthijs Broersma Pau Codina Reinoud Ford Ashok Klouda
Bart LaFollette John Myerscough Ella Rundle

Schubert 3 Songs from Schwanengesang; Berio Korot; Wagner Prelude from Tristan und Isolde; Bach 2 Preludes; Berlin I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas;Wieniawski Scherzo Tarantella.

Another of PLG's rather uncomfortable shared concerts, too long at 2 1/2 hours.

Cellophony did not build on their brilliant debut as PLGYoungArtists2011. They have had to compromise a lot, believing that viable original repertoire is small and so setting their star on new "exclusive and personalised transcriptions of mainstream classical and romantic music" [Richard Birchall].

Playing without a conductor and with regular seating rearrangements for nearly every item, it was hard to feel who was in charge. Berio's Korot was the only orginal work last night. Wieniaski's Scherzo Tarantella to finish was frankly scrappy. And did we really need the Prelude to Tristan at half past nine? *

There are now several established cello octets, including Les Phil'art'cellistes of Radio France. The pioneering Amsterdam Cello Octet (formerly Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico, founded in 1989 by Elias Arizcuren, their main conductor) had a notable UK debut at Wigmore Hall. It has inspired many great contemporary composers to write pieces for them, among these Arvo Pärt, Terry Riley, Mauricio Kagel, Theo Loevendie, Franco Donatoni and Luciano Berio. Cello Octet Amsterdam is proud of having more than 70 original works in its repertoire and 13 CDs to its name.

I enjoyed more Jessica Zhu's contribution. She adapted her dynamic range to the small auditorium and avoided pulverising our ears - such as e.g. Gyorgy Sandor, remembered by us as one of the loudest pianists heard at Wigmore Hall and a few others who could be named. Her tonal control and 'touch" was superb and in Haydn seemed aware of contemporary research, even though she was playing on the standard Steinway. Was her Falla a lttle lacking in thrills? She needs to find some more intensity in dramatic music without compromising her subtle control of timbre.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* A reader (who didn't enjoy the pianist at all !) has commented liking the Wagner arrangement best of all, so it's all very subjective.
A Cellophony CD has been promised, but best should be a DVD maybe, as it's a very visual show, with something on YouTube first??
Meanwhile hear Cellophony in Sollima and Debussy's Golliwog's Cake-Walk.