Paying another, very welcome, return visit to Hawick earlier this month were Paul Chamberlain and Michael Haywood. Their programme began quietly, evocatively, with a typical, eleven beat in the bar Balkan wedding dance. Performed on soprano saxophone and accordion in a lively manner, the scene was set for an afternoon of excellent music.
There followed three more pieces portraying different styles of tango: the first, jazz-like, celebrating the end of slavery; the second incorporating the sweet sound of the violin; and the third, another Balkan piece, this time with seven beats in a bar.
The duo then performed an exquisite composition by Chamberlain depicting an Orcadian Sunrise, with the Sound of Hoy, shipwrecks and the play of light on the water. The accordion this time was accompanied by the low six-holed whistle, providing a soulful timbre to the piece.
Monti’s well-known lively, toe-tapping Czardas for gypsy violin preceded a quiet, reflective solo on accordion, a Romance by Angelis, which was slow and haunting.
Haywood then played a composition of his own depicting the Lewis Chessmen, which was an imaginative and dramatic three-part piece. Introducing the wee whistle, the audience was shown how versatile a ‘simple’ instrument can be, using techniques of breath control and finger vibrato.
Modern, jazzy tango with a big sound opened the second half of the programme and then, in contrast, came a calm, serene Ave Maria by Piazzolla. Two Hungarian Dances by Brahms and the second movement of Mozart’s clarinet concerto followed, showing the versatility of these two players.
Russian composer, Zolotariev, who studied under eminent tutors at St. Petersburg Conservatoire, wrote a Sonata for free bass accordion and was the highlight of the concert, receiving enthusiastic applause.
Bringing an end to the afternoon of music were very rhythmic, lively and exciting Troikas, from both Russia and Israel, and as a final encore concert-goers were treated to a jig and reel – Russian style!
Both musicians, in excellent form, showed how versatile they and their instruments were and the audience, sensing this, reacted appreciatively and warmly.–MB