Young musicians perform with technical brilliance in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 December 2018

Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata with the St Mary's orchestra and teachers. Picture: Jane Godbeer

Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata with the St Mary's orchestra and teachers. Picture: Jane Godbeer

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SeatonMusic recently played host to Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) and Isata (piano). Read Peter Dawson's review.

Westminster Abbey, Los Angeles, BBC are just three of the prestigious venues where two young musicians have performed before their appearance in the latest SeatonMusic concert at The Gateway, writes Peter Dawson.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) first became known as the winner of the BBC Young Musician of the year 2016, and then as the soloist at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Isata (piano) was a finalist in the 2014 BBC Young Musician of the Year. Both are students at The Royal Academy, and both have already performed at prestigious venues in the UK and abroad.

No wonder the concert was a sell-out. A packed house was not disappointed. Technical brilliance, musical sensitivity and a well-established partnership were obvious. From the opening of the first piece (Cello Sonata no. 6 by cello virtuoso Luigi Boccherini) it was clear that the duo had prepared an exciting and challenging programme. Playing a cello of 1610 built by the renowned Cremona maker Amati, and accompanied on SeatonMusic’s own Steinway grand, they demonstrated the full expressive and dynamic range of the instruments. Poulenc’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Debussy’s Sonata for Cello in D minor and the Cello sonata no2 by Johannes Brahms made up the programme. There were moments of beautiful lyricism in both instruments, moments showing the composer’s anger and despair, moments of light-hearted chat, moments of solemnity, passages of dance-like energy, and, above all, the sense of a conversation between the two instruments.

After a standing ovation, an enthusiastic audience would not let them go without an encore. As a seasonal touch, they played Sheku’s own arrangement (with virtuosic variations!) of the carol In The Bleak Midwinter.

Sheku and Isata are not only passionate about their own performance. They are also keen on making music available to all, and as part of SeatonMusic’s outreach programme they spent Friday morning in St Mary’s RC Primary school, in Axminster, leading a workshop with the school’s 14-piece orchestra directed by music teacher Rachel Burrough. The visitors gave the children some hints on how to improve as well as playing extracts from the concert to the whole school.

‘Children were enthralled – and hopefully inspired!’ was one of many positive comments heard.

Tickets are available for SeatonMusic’s next concert, when international pianist Joanna MacGregor will play Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C minor and his Appassionata sonata, together with mazurkas by Chopin, and works by Ginastera, Gubaidulina and Say.

Details from the Gateway and on the website www.seatonmusic.org

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