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Hammers & Horsehair – Concert for Soprano, Square Piano and Cello

April 10, 2018 April 2018 No Comments

The Greytown Music Group’s  first concert for this year will be Hammers & Horsehair, at 4pm Sunday 22 April, at 57 Wood Street, Greytown – an innovative performance by Douglas Mews on square piano, Robert Ibell on cello, and soprano Rowena Simpson of music from 19th century Germany, Austria and Bohemia, linked by short readings reflecting the era. The instruments date back to the same period as the music, the square piano having been made by Broadwood in 1843. The cello Robert plays dates back earlier, from an unknown Italian or German maker.

The “square piano” (in fact rectangular) was a big step forward from the harpsichord in two major ways. Shaped like a grand piano, harpsichords took up a lot of room. The square, or “table” piano was much easier to fit into a drawing room, and was much in demand. It  operated with hammers and dampers, instead of quills plucking strings, enabling a performer to sustain notes, and to play softly (piano) and loudly (forte). Broadwoods, in London, produced the finest square pianos in Europe.

Three beautiful but rarely heard songs by Bohemian composer Jan Kalivoda and Schubert’s famous Shepherd on the Rock begin and end the concert. In between are excepts from Schumann’s evocative Scenes from Childhood, two special Lieder by Schubert, and one of the best-loved sonatas for piano and cello, Beethoven’s Sonata in A major Op 69.

Rowena and Douglas both studied in New Zealand and The Netherlands. She is now a freelance opera and chamber music singer, and Douglas teaches at the NZ School of Music in Wellington and directs the music at St Teresa’s Catholic Church. Robert studied in New Zealand and London, has been a member of the NZSO cello section since 1993, and plays in several small chamber music groups.

Admission $25, students $10. Ring Ed and Juliet Cooke on 304 9497 to book, or email them at efjac@xtra.co.nz.

Photo caption: Douglas Mews (at piano) soprano Rowena Simpson and Robert Ibell

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