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Yet, some of the music -- that is the acoustic material played by the pianos -- was very interesting. Presumably imitating/drawing upon composers like Handel, Field, Bax, Britten and Cyril Scott -- though I must say I didn't sense that deeply -- these piano works are actually very impressive. One, and please forgive me for forgetting which, reminded me of Sorabji and was good for all that.

The true highlight of this concert was the genuine artistry of the duo pianists, Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann. This married couple play as one pianist with a supernatural sense of ensemble. They are both superb musicians and pianists able to infuse music with genuine, deeply felt expression. If anything made Rule Britannia an artistic event, it was the radiant music-making they provided.

Along with that work, the Bergmanns played Vivaldiana by Quenten Doolittle and Hallelujah Junction by John Adams. The set of variations on Vivaldi was described as a high spirited tongue in cheek tribute, but I felt it much more sombre and clearly in the serious academic manner. No matter, it is a fine composition and it was played expertly.

The same can be said of the piece by Adams. Now one of the most frequently performed American composers, John Adams' music is a slightly simplified, lighter toned elaboration of minimalism. Well, one can hardly call such a welter of notes minimal, but the essential feature of mantric repetition is retained. Still, Adams is a composer of merit and has something to say. His music is definitely American, but while teetering on the edge of the pop world, it still possesses character and integrity.

Evidently this concert was quite the mixed bag. No?

Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann
Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann

I'm not sure that Britannia still rules, but I am positive that Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann are superior artists who deserve wide-ranging recognition and I can also understand why John Adams is so successful.

Copyright © 11 October 2002 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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