Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Enchanted Evening…

- Renee Finn -

…you may hear a recital by Chrisna Smit (Piano-forte) and Peter McEwan (Bass) at that charming venue, the Jans Rautenbach Schouwburg in de Beer Street. The enchantment was experienced by an audience of nearly 60 on 1 March.

Mellowed by a glass of wine and the glow of the setting sun, we entered the air-conditioned theatre to take our seats. On the stage, beneath a spotlight, a piano awaited the artistes. They entered, she in red and black, and he – a true Scot, wearing the kilt. A Scots evening, we wondered?

Peter welcomed the audience and revealed the programme: music from Handel, Mozart, Bach, Sibelius… opening with three arias from Messiah – and please, do not applaud until the singer takes his bow.

The evening flowed, music gently interspersed with gossip about each composer. Handel hobnobbed with snobs and Royalty; Mozart had to settle for second best in a marriage partner; Chopin’s lover, George Sands wandered about in her underwear when they lived on Majorca (heat levels on a par with Prince Albert!); Beethoven wrote music for his secret “Beloved” but never kept his dates with her.

Peter entranced us with Jean Sibelius’ “Be Still my Soul” and I especially enjoyed “In diese Heiligen Halle,” the High Priest’s aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. Peter sang with great dignity, reaching down into those deep bass notes.

Chrisna’s accompaniment is always in perfect unison with the performer, but when she comes into her own as the soloist, she is an artiste totally absorbed with the instrument and the music.

Her rendition of Beethoven’s Adagio from the Moonlight Sonata was beautifully “moody” and I didn’t want it to end. When it did there was a momentary hush before the applause. You were wonderful, Chrisna. Her Chopin Valse Op. 60 was scintillating and from where I sat I watched her hands fluttering and hovering over the keys like butterflies, teasing the notes from the instrument.

Peter offered a ‘mystery’ song – whoever knew the title would win a bottle of Bergwater wine. All were baffled, save Rosemary, his wife, who revealed that “A gift to last” came from a bygone TV series.

Peter ended the evening with a stirring rendition of Kipling’s “On the Road to Mandalay” and when an encore was demanded, sang that old favourite: “Without a Song” which really touched the heartstrings, for we all know that “there is no love at all, without a song.”

So ended our Enchanted Evening … we drifted home with our hearts and minds filled with music.

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