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Archive for May, 2010

And then there were two…

Review: The Three Peters Piano Trio, St David’s Hall, 18th May 2010

This free lunchtime concert was originally to be the Three Peters piano trio performing Beethoven and Mendelsohn. Ufortunately, due to problems on the motorway, Peter Fisher, the violinist was held up. They hoped he’d make it in time to play the second trio but it was not to be.

Instead we were treated to an impromptu programme for cello and piano including Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, Saint-Saens’ The Swan, and the inevitable dip into Bach’s suites for solo cello.

Sone of the works are really very difficult, even when planned and rehearsed, but the two remaining Peters did a fantastic job performing them at short notice. The cellist Peter Adams even added some entertaining commentary in between.

The Kol Nidrei was full of exactly the passion one wants from this piece, and the same can be said for the performance of Faure’s Elegie. In between these two was The Swan, a piece generally familiar to cellists, especially as it often features in the programmes of school and youth orchestras. Peter Adams has obviously followed the same path: the notes were well-known and technically perfect but musically this left me wanting more, as it tended toward the mechanical in places.

The Bach was at times taken a little faster than felt comfortable, and consequently some of the scalic passages lacked clarity. Having said that, the very spritely gigue movement may be the best I have heard it, with every note crystal clear and a real excitement about the performance.

Following the Bach, Peter Hewitt performed a new solo piano Fantasia on themes from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, the music for which was emailed over and printed during the concert. The tunes were familiar to the audience who bobbed and smiled along and, as piano Peter noted before beginning, its vivacious speed made a change from ‘all those Elegies’ for the cello!

The concert ended with a fiendish Hungarian Dance by David Popper. Popper, as Peter Adams explained, is a name that puts fear into the hearts of cellists everywhere – a cellist himself, he wrote showpieces to perform, as well as a vast catalogue of studies. No fear was to be found here, however, as the two Peters took this at a rip-roaring pace, taking every opportunity to showcase their excellent technique and style.

Although unplanned, this was clearly a performance they enjoyed, and that carried over to the audience who were buzzing with praise and admiration as they left.

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Tea and Cake, Wellfield Road

This is a little gem, one of those places that just gives you a warm and happy feeling. I was taken there by my friend Marika who wanted to show me the Moomin products that they stock and I (with my well-documented obsession with all things Finnish) happily complied! It is quite exciting that they stock Moomin stuff as I think they are only place in Cardiff that does! Tea and Cake is divided into a pick and mix and gift shop out front and a tea and cake café at the back (complete with garden). We had a cappuccino (Marika) and a coffee frappe (me) and shared a piece of lemon and poppy seed cake. My frappe made me want to give up visiting Starbucks forever and the cake was very yummy too. The service was very friendly and the whole atmosphere is very relaxing and homely. I wish Tea and Cake much success and will certainly try and visit again soon!

A Shot in the Dark, City Road

I have to confess I walked past this place every day for a year and never went in. It was a friend’s surprise birthday party that finally made me venture inside. I always heard rave reviews of Shot…and I wasn’t disappointed. The drinks were a bit pricey (£4 for a large glass of wine) but the super-friendly (and attractive!) staff and the relaxed, cool-but-not-pretentious atmosphere made up for it! The food by contrast seems very good value. More or less the same price as Wetherspoons but made with infinitely more TLC.

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Llwyth [Tribe], Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea, 8th May 2010

Llwyth explores the theme of identities, and how these can change the way we respond to the world. The story centres on a group of gay men in Cardiff, ranging from the older, experienced Dada to the young, naïve Gavin making his first steps into the world of the night, to a seemingly mismatched couple.

Dafydd James’ new script is excellent, mostly Welsh language, but mixing in some ‘Wenglish’, along with English for certain characters. If you’re not Welsh speaking don’t let that put you off. I’m a dysgwr (Welsh learner) so I found it fun to see how much I could pick up, but there is at least one performance at each venue with English surtitles.

The main character, Aneurin, played by Simon Watts, has returned from London to his homeland, and his anguish and hiraeth [longing for home] run through the narrative. Aneurin’s various soliloquies showed a depth to the character’s emotions that was longing to be set free. Watts’ acting was truly incredible, and had me gripped from start to finish.

Some wonderful references to Welsh life are also included through the story, as they have meaning for each of the characters. Highlights for me were regular references to traditional Welsh song and poetry forms from the Eisteddfod and ‘O’r Fan Acw’ [the Welsh version of the song ‘From a Distance’] performed in truly individual style!

The small-scale Dylan Thomas theatre, an ideal setting, was packed with a very appreciative audience, who gave the cast a well-deserved standing ovation. The performances throughout were brilliant. Each cast member had to play several smaller parts as well as their main character, and did so with brilliant clarity. From lighter funny scenes, to portraying a drug-induced haze, through to emotional torture each emotion was vivid and clear, and I really felt drawn into the story.

The play is on tour around Wales at the moment, after starting at Chapter in Cardiff, and I strongly recommend catching it if you can. A fantastic evening of theatre!

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