Season finale at Hawick Music Live!

The last concert in the club’s 64th season took place in the Tower Mill auditorium on Saturday evening, when Harris Playfair and Heather Cattanach took centre stage playing on two pianos.

They opened their ambitious programme with the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, otherwise known as ‘The Wedge’ because of the ever-widening intervals of the notes of the theme, in the manner of a wedge. Originally written for organ, this demanding piece, arranged for two pianos by Max Reger, was played with great precision.

This was followed by Harris’ own arrangement of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s Noctuary – ‘a diary of the events of the night’ – variations on ‘Solace’, a theme of Scott Joplin. Beginning and ending in recognisable Joplin style, succeeding variations showed a large mix of 20th-century styles and influences, including Ravel, Scriabin, Gershwin, and, latterly, Pierre Boulez, with whom Bennett studied in Paris.

The second half opened in lively style with Darius Milhaud’s ever-popular and engaging Scaramouche. Taking its name from the Theatre Scaramouche, which specialised in productions aimed at children, this lively iconic clown-like character is depicted brilliantly in different moods and was played with enormous enthusiasm.

The last two items, both of which were compositions by these talented performers, were firstly 4:2:1 – four hands, two people, one piano – an amalgamation of attractive tunes with, the audience was told, esoteric meanings and included two birthday pieces.

The concluding item, Celtic Shenanigans, written at Celtic Courses in Shetland and Aberdeen, raised many a smile when the players changed places at the piano several times during the performance without ever interrupting the flow of the many melodies.

This was without doubt a thoroughly enjoyable concert given by two extremely gifted musicians equally at home in the musical worlds of classical, jazz and folk. It concluded a successful series of concerts promoted by the club which now looks forward to its 65th season while hoping to welcome new members and visitors in September.

– MB