The Chamber Music Series at MacKay United Church provides classical music in many formats and the September 17 concert featuring cellist Paul Marleyn and pianist Frédéric Lacroix provided an excellent example of the diversity.
It certainly was a hit with the crowd of more than 200, which gave a prolonged standing ovation at the conclusion that brought the musicians back on stage for two bows. It would be most entertaining to hear the two musicians play as part of a larger group.
The evening was entitled From Bach to the Magic Flute and included selections from J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Olivier Messaien, Leos Janacek and Gabriel Faure that are not heard very often. Marleyn and Lacroix played them with style and grace.
Marleyn performed all the pieces and Lacroix about half, which made for an interesting comparison of the cello played solo and accompanied by another instrument. The harmony of the two instruments played together by accomplished musicians was a treat.
The MacKay venue provides the audience with a close-up view of the performers. Marleyn faced the audience making his bow and string work easy to watch and marvel at. Lacroix was partly obscured by the piano but his fingers danced over the keys with artistic flair.
Marleyn is professor of cello and head of strings at the University of Ottawa and gives master classes around the world. He has also performed with orchestras throughout Canada and in the United States, Mexico and Europe.
Lacroix graduated from the University of Ottawa and the Université de Montreal and recently received his doctorate from Cornell. He has performed throughout Canada and the United States.
The selections were chosen to show “the range and power of the cello and how through time it has expressed a variety of emotions as no other instrument has,” says Carolyn Bower, Coordinator, MacKay Concert Series in the program notes. “What program would be complete without Bach’ solo cello suites—just a cellist, alone, holding the audience spellbound with music of celestial purity and harmony, intimate yet profound, difficult yet transparent, polyphonic music from a single instrument “wherein man has created a dance of God.’”
Janacek’s composition, A Fairy Tale, was used in the soundtrack of the movie The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
The next concert in the series is scheduled for Friday November 17 and is entitled Les Chemins de l’Amour with soprano Wanda Procyshyn and pianist Thomas Annand. It will feature selections from Purcell, Holst, Mozart and Poulenc.