It is always a pleasure to invite young performers; they bring energy, enthusiasm and passion. This was our third annual concert for local teenage musicians, many of whom are aspiring to be professional in the future.
Sophie Kauer from Godalming was the youngest of all the performers this evening. She played Dvorak’s Silent Wood with a warm affection and beautiful vibrato, capturing a profound sense of inner feeling. In Manuel de Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole, Sophie portrayed the characteristics of each Spanish folk theme: El pano moruno maintained a pleasant tempo, Nana demonstrated a mysterious singing tone, and Polo was joyful.
Hanae O’Neil chose to play Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. I was personally very pleased for myself, and also for the audience, to hear this unaccompanied piece performed on the viola. It was performed with calmness but I thought the way she accelerated momentum leading up to the climax was clever and effective. Hoffmeister’s and Walton’s Concertos could not be more contrasting, which were appreciated by the audience.
Pianist Amber Li brought a delightful programme of works by Bach, Faure, Ravel, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Each work requires a different technique and style, which Amber skilfully demonstrated. She kept the tone warm and agreeable throughout. I noticed her feet were completely off the pedals for the Bach! Despite no pedals the notes were beautifully connected. Ending the programme with a lively and fast-tempo Etude by Stravinsky (particularly after hearing a dark Rachmaninov study) was very effective.
For James Cobb, it was his second appearance at Breinton. James, despite being only 18 years old, sang with unfazed confidence, which immediately put the audience at ease. He was blessed with naturally beautiful voice, which he could expand and sustain. I thought he had rhythms, pitches, breathing and lyrics totally under his control for all the songs. He put all his heart into his singing, and for us it was lovely to see his ‘unstoppable’ love of it.
All the instrumentalists were accompanied by Alison Rhind, an indispensable part of our success for this evening. Our thanks also to Her Worship the Mayor of Woking, Councillor Anne Murray for attending and for her kind remarks at the end of the evening.