Young musicians excel for Sidmouth Hospiscare at Sidholme concerts

Joel Munday, violin, and pianist Peter Clarke: Picture by Colin Walls

Joel Munday, violin, and pianist Peter Clarke: Picture by Colin Walls - Credit: Colin Walls

Music recitals delight audiences and raise £1,000 for Hospiscare

The duo of Joel Munday – violin and Peter Clarke - piano played to two capacity audiences in the Sidholme Music Room, Sidmouth on 16th and 18th July. The recitals coordinated by Roger Hendy, MD Isca Ensemble raised funds for the Sidholme Music Room Restoration Fund and Sidmouth Hospiscare. The performances of wonderful pieces by Stravinsky, Frank, Debussy and Saint-Saens by these talented Devonian musicians were infectious, compelling and of the very highest standard.

Joel Munday has been playing the violin since the age of seven and is heading off in September to embark on advanced studies with Prof Ani Schnarch at the Royal College of Music. Playing with impeccable assuredness, composure and panache, Joel was able to communicate to the audience much reverie, passion and considerable emotional output. He is a young very promising artist with exceptional technique and musicianship, indicative of a mature mind and a burning desire to consistently perform well.

Peter Clarke also showed what a brilliant pianist he is, producing crystal clear and sympathetic accompaniment for the solo violin throughout a very challenging programme. Together, he and Joel make a formidable team and the many hours spent at rehearsals has enabled them to produce a rich, vibrant and beautifully blended sound of the highest quality.

The opening piece comprised of three movements from the Suite Italienne for violin and piano by Stravinsky. This is an endearing work based on Stravinsky’s music for the ballet Pulcinella. The charm and vibrancy of the melodies beautifully portrayed the piquant flavour of Stravinsky’s writing. Both players confidently executed the virtuoso fast passages particularly in the spirited and highly articulated Finale as well as securing some gorgeous colours in the delightful Serenata.

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The famous violin sonata by César Frank followed, a piece which has earned a place as a concert favourite largely because of the broad appeal of its songlike melodies. The players were able to maintain a perfect balance between the lush Romantic writing and carefully wrought polyphony as in the canon that forms the famous Finale building it up to a terrific climax. With lovely well-rounded rounded tone and immaculate phrasing, those beautiful long melodic lines soared out as the players enhanced the appealing lusciousness and sometimes febrile intensity of this wonderful piece.

In Debussy’s stunning Violin Sonata, three short movements provide an astonishing range of subtle moods and emotions within a relatively short time span and, according to a typically self-deprecating remark by the composer, it represents ‘an example of what may be produced by a sick man in time of war’. Debussy was profoundly affected by the war. Right from the opening piano chords of the Allegro vivo, Joel and Peter brought an idiomatic sensitivity to this music, producing many fine moods and colours as they negotiated Debussy’s twists and turns, changes in tempi and dynamics together with attention to beautifully delicate, filigree phraseology. This was playing that brimmed with serene impressionistic character and smoky seductiveness, especially in the finale.

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Saint-Saëns’s ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’ was the final piece requiring considerable flair and daring not just technical security and that is precisely how the duo approached it. It was a glittering showcase imbued with the passion of the Iberian dance and delivered with lots of flashy violin pyrotechnics to end a splendid recital. There was more Debussy on offer as an encore in a beautifully crafted performance of his Beau Soir.

These were exceptional recitals performed by two very gifted Devonian musicians. Let’s hope they will return to Sidmouth again to thrill more audiences!

Retiring collections made considerable sums for the two specially chosen local charities.

Roger Hendy

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