The flute and the piano commingled in beautiful union as Ned and Keiko played on
The celebrated McGowan Duo from the Netherlands threw open the year-long 25 year celebrations of the Bangalore School of Music (BSM) at the Alliance Francaise on Wednesday.
Keiko Shichijo on the piano and Ned McGowan on the flute had western music lovers of Bangalore enthralled with their virtuosity on their instruments and the wondrous sounds they could coax out of them. Their chemistry spoke volumes through their duet performance on the flute and piano.
“Look out for a plethora of programmes which will be staged through the year,” said Aruna Sunderlal the Director of the BSM, which is good news for western music lovers of Bangalore.
The rather staid Alliance Francaise concert hall had been transformed with bunches of colourful African daisies marking the celebrations of the BSM called Odyssey 2012.
Ned revealed that he had begun playing the flute when he was just nine years old and he chose the flute because it was ‘shiny'! Now he plays a Brannen which has a gold and even shinier head! “This is my 15 visit to India and I had moved into playing innovative styles of music with Indian musicians. It was Keiko, a classical pianist I recently married, who brought me back to my roots of western classical music. ”
The duo opened the evening with a trio by French composer Claude Debussy, which included the “Prelude al'apres-midi d'un faun”.
“This was written at the end of the 19 century and we are reviving the pieces as they were revolutionary at the time and put Debussy on the map. He wrote it originally as chamber music, but we will play you an arrangement for flute and piano,” explained Ned.
Keiko had the audience gasping at her brilliance and effortless fingerwork on the ivories, playing “Fireworks”, again by Debussy. Keiko began playing the piano when she was barely three years old and did her final studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.
Three folk songs by Béla Bartók, the great Hungarian composer, was their next offering, which Ned explained were actual folk songs transcribed by the composer, as folk songs eternally change, unlike western classical sheet music.
In fact the Bagatelle, which they played with improvisation was also played by American Jazz pianist Chick Correa.
The haunting melancholy sounds of the folk tunes were beautifully rendered by the resonance of the flute.
It was thrilling to hear Keiko and Ned play the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach's “Sonata in B Minor”, which is a complex piece, with changes in the harmonies.
The sonata was originally written to be played by a trio “but if you listen carefully, Keiko's left hand plays the third instrument, and the canons, which are so typical of Bach, can be heard, echoed and re-echoed, not unlike Carnatic music,” said Ned.
The final piece was a composition of Ned's called “Chamundi Hill” where Keiko imitated the sound of the tambura by intriguingly ‘bowing' the strings of the piano, which earned them a shout for encores and a standing ovation.