REVIEW: Valentine’s concert at Ely Cathedral was ‘one of the finest’

Cellist Pavlos Carvalho, pianist Warren Mailley-Smith and soprano Susan Parkes at the Valentine's Co

Cellist Pavlos Carvalho, pianist Warren Mailley-Smith and soprano Susan Parkes at the Valentine's Concert held at Ely Cathedral. PHOTO Rosemary Westwell. - Credit: Archant

The Valentine’s Concert in Ely Cathedral on February 11 was the eighth annual visit by Warren Mailley-Smith and co-musicians and it was one of the finest.

Violinist Lucy Jeal at the Valentine's concert at Ely Cathedral. PHOTO: Rosemary Westwell

Violinist Lucy Jeal at the Valentine's concert at Ely Cathedral. PHOTO: Rosemary Westwell - Credit: Archant

Warren Mailley-Smith (piano), Pavlos Carvalho (cello), Lucy Jeal (violin) and Susan Parkes (soprano) gave us a splendid evening of romantic music that not only stirred the heart strings but amazed us with their technique and ability to bring out the musical qualities of the pieces they chose. The compositions were by no means easy and the way in which the three instrumentalists demonstrated such clarity and virtuosic skill was phenomenal. No matter how difficult the passage, these three excellent musicians synchronized perfectly. Susan Parkes (soprano) added to the wonderfully romantic spirit of the evening with her collection of songs at the end of the programme.

In Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Warren played with accomplished fluency that comes with experience and insight, bringing out sonorous key melodies exquisitely and adding new qualities to this very famous piece.

The highlight of the evening for me, Rachmaninov’s ‘Sonata for Cello in G minor’, played by Warren and Pavlos, was magnificent. While demonstrating amazing technique and empathy for the music, these fine performers maintained Rachmaninov’s romantic melancholy and nostalgia well while reminding us of their tremendous agility and expressive capability in the more joyous passages.

Elgar’s ‘Salut d’amour’ was a must for the programme and Lucy played it beautifully on her violin.

Rosie and Nick Holliday who won tickets to the Valentine's concert through the Ely Standard's compet

Rosie and Nick Holliday who won tickets to the Valentine's concert through the Ely Standard's competition. PHOTO: Rosie Holliday. - Credit: Archant


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Mendelssohn’s ‘Piano Trio in D minor’ was positively charming while Susan’s songs left us in no doubt that this was indeed a celebratory concert. The songs included Puccini’s ‘O mio babbino’, ‘Morgen’ by Strauss, ‘Je veux vivre’ by Gounod and ‘Habañera’ by Bizet. In the moments when her beautiful voice was focused, the sound was exhilarating.

What a delightful evening!

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