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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Emma Fisk and Paul Edis @ St. Cuthbert’s Centre, Crook. October 14.

Emma Fisk, violin and Paul Edis, piano.
(Review/photos by Jerry)
“It’s not all jazz”, Emma said: “It is all acoustic,” Paul added. A very different gig to review then, given my encyclopedic ignorance of all tonight’s three genres!  Additionally, unlike “normal” gigs, many of the tunes played were short giving a total set list of 22 tunes. No wonder Steve-T chose to imbibe leaving me to scribe!
Let me say from the outset, the whole evening was tremendous – a musical tour (de force) across continents, centuries, and genres - a violin masterclass interspersed with information and anecdotes about the composers and their music.  Crook was at its best with a good crowd (about 60), and resplendent with candelabra in all the windowsills. Paul Edis, at the piano, was flanked by candelabra but despite playing in a range of styles never sought to emulate Liberace!

From the off, Crook was “tango-ed” with the best known of that genre, the Uruguayan La Cumparsita. Then to the U.S. for Honeysuckle Rose with Edis getting a good groove going on the venerable upright piano. Next was 19th. Century Prague with a Dvorak Romantic piece on which, as on all the classical offerings tonight, the violin tugged at the emotions. Tango again with A la Luz de los Faroles composed by the Argentine pioneer, Rosendo Mendizabal. His loss (of his inheritance, gambling) was the tango’s gain as he took to composing to earn a living. Another successful crowd-pleaser, Bohm, a German this time, gave us Bolero on which the musicians’ impeccable timing pleased this crowd and had them whooping  at the finish.
The 1940’s hit, Besame Mucho, composed by Consuelo Velazquez whose early musical career was as a concert pianist, illustrated Emma Fisk’s argument that jazz, tango and classical are all interrelated. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love – another 20’s US show tune gave us some stride piano from Edis and a neat finish. El Cacharrito (The Little Puppy) seemed a whimsical tango with playful variations of tone and pace. Next was Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne, a sombre, Debussy-influenced classical piece by another composer with a sad history. She was a child prodigy who, at the age of 19, became the first female winner of the Prix de Rome for composition. Sadly she died of Crohn’s Disease at 26. Arlen’s Paper Moon closed the first set.
The first half was excellent: the second half was even better – which compounds my problems in penning this review! Skip It (US) was a lively opener ending with three plucked notes: there was much good use of pizzicato all evening – especially as concluding flourishes to tunes. Weill/ Brecht gave us a “quirky” tango – about 90 second’s worth – which seemed almost to stop mid-way and then re-start in a jerkier fashion. You Do Something to Me, which Emma loved as done by Dietrich, kept us (vaguely) in Berlin then we were off to Princeton (US) with the oddest story of the evening: music dedicated to Einstein by its Czech(?) composer, Bohuslav Martinu. Madrigal Stanza 3 is a dark and moody piece, perhaps reflecting its times (WW2) but with a swelling, calm conclusion possibly betokening optimism? Einstein performed this in private recitals with his French pianist buddy, a more accomplished musician than the great physicist. Martinu made the violin part “accessible” to the great man, but the piano part was more complex, so congrats Paul! Einstein, apparently, was incapable of re-stating his own ideas to make them more accessible, so Martinu went to his grave without ever really grasping the theory of relativity! Me and him both!
Next was Someone to Watch Over Me – a real tear-jerker with tinkly high notes on piano and the violin, again, wringing out emotion with a beautiful, high, vibrato finish. Despite Eddie Cantor’s alternative lyrics, I remain unconvinced that Makin’ Whoopee has anything to do with picnics – but it’s a great song, anyway! (Editor’s note – there are picnics and picnics!)
While all this jazzing and tangoing was going on elsewhere, we Brits (being more pragmatic) preferred Variations (Enigmatic). But Elgar could do popular too, as his Chanson de Matin showed. The public loved it – and in Crook it went down as well as the pizza!  Next was Chiquilin de Bachin, a 60’s tango revival number, more waltz than tango, about a street-kid who sold flowers in Buenos Aires. After this we had She’s Funny That Way, then it was back to the classical with Massenet’s Meditation, a symphonic piece from the opera, Thaïs. Waves of arpeggios here from Paul Edis and beautiful violin from Emma Fisk ensured that this went down even better than Elgar!
Tango and jazz closed the evening with El Choclo (corn-cob) drawing enthusiastic applause with a great snap ending and prompting raucous demands for “more” which were answered with a joyful, rocking Lady Be Good, by way of an encore. I hope there will be more “encores” by way of further gigs in the same vein: I enjoyed every moment and learnt stuff in the process.

Jerry.

1 comment :

Steven T said...

And that's why I elected to imbibe; four bottles my wife and the Lawrence brothers' mother (a vicar)informed me.
Were Crook a walled town with a gate I've no doubt Ms Fisk would be awarded the keys to the 'town'. It's always a bit like royalty with a good turnout guaranteed though, it being the St Cuthbert Centre, maybe more like the pope and the queen turning up.
Nothing I'd naturally listen to, probably like a lot of the people there, but she's such a wonderful player and Lord Paul, you could stick your fish and chip wrapper on the piano and he'd play it and make it musical and brilliant.
The Lawrence parents confessed they were Fisk virgins and I had to concede we've been groupies for years. You can take it as given they'll be back.

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