FRINGE REVIEW – Elgar and his Contemporaries

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By Veronika Kallus

Elgar and his Contemporaries – Feargus Hetherington (Violin/Viola) and Olga Gorelik (Piano)

The marking ‘con amore’ instructs performers in the second movement in Granville Bantock’s Violin Sonata No 1 in G Major. With love, and with a lot of passion, this delightful potpourri of British composers of the early decades of the 20th century is performed by two remarkable musicians. A breathless audience is taken on frantic, furious, sharp crescendos and ecstatic eruptions until a gentler balance is struck by balmy and temperate songlike parts. The fast pieces especially illustrate the musicians’ skilfulness. Violin/viola and piano connect in a fulfilling way, illustrating the joy with which the performers present their music, weaving a net of resonance and sound around the audience.

As part of their UK Tour 2013 – which also brings them to London, Bath and Bristol as well as other parts of Scotland – Feargus Hetherington and Olga Gorelik have one stop in Edinburgh. They present an intriguing showcase of Edward Elgar’s music – or rather, mainly, his contemporaries, as the violinist points out. The composers include Hawick born John Blackwood McEwan, York Bowen and Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie who resided in Edinburgh for a big part of his life, in addition to the above-mentioned.

‘Embracing and gemütlich’ – this is how Feargus Hetherington, in his notes on the program, describes the second theme in Edward Elgar’s La Capricieuse Op. 17. And the atmosphere the performers create in their intimate venue at the Royal Overseas League during a hectic afternoon on Princes Street is certainly warm, calm, welcoming and unpretentious. The printed program provides a careful discussion of all composers and the pieces performed. These notes are written by the performers themselves and allow the audience to engage with their musical minds as well as letting them guess what their inspiration for selecting the particular pieces might have been. This is added by the natural and enthusiastic way in which Feargus Hetherington is introducing the works and engaging with the audience.

Feargus Hetherington, who is currently associate teacher at the University of St Andrews, is frequently performing in Edinburgh, whereas Olga Gorelik is a rare guest. It will be worth looking out for their next joined or solo performance in Edinburgh.

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