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Harpist and flautist open 2019-20 South Holland Concerts' series




A pair of Royal Academy of Music-trained performers showed the full range of their respective instruments in Spalding this month.

Harpist Elizabeth Bass and flute player Daniel Shao expertly and expressively presented works by Bach, Debussy, Fauré, Saint-Saens, Mozart and Chopin in opening the 36th season of South Holland Concerts.

During a programme of music originally composed in the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, Bass and Shao fully justified their positions as artists registered with The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, which supported the concert staged at South Holland Centre.

Elizabeth Bass played works by Debussy, Fauré, Saint-Saens and Chopin during her recital with Daniel Shao in Spalding.Photo by Tor Hills Photography.
Elizabeth Bass played works by Debussy, Fauré, Saint-Saens and Chopin during her recital with Daniel Shao in Spalding.Photo by Tor Hills Photography.

The recital opened with Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach's Sonata in G "Hamburger" which Shao told his audience was an example of the composer, second son of Johann Sebastian Bach, being "a bit more expressive, daring and forward-looking".

Belgian composer Joseph Jongen's Danse Lente (Slow Dance), written during his exile in England during World War I, brought a more solemn mood to the recital before Bass and Shao played solo pieces.

First up was a flute solo of Claude Debussy's Syrinx which Shao called "a piece of iconic music, meant to represent the musical qualities of the flute".

Elizabeth Bass and Daniel Shao at South Holland Centre, Spalding.
Elizabeth Bass and Daniel Shao at South Holland Centre, Spalding.

Another French composer, Gabriel Fauré, was the source of a harp solo by Bass called Impromptu, written for the Premier Prix of the Paris Conservatoire in 1904.

Introducing the piece, Bass said: "It's definitely got Fauré at its heart and it uses the full range of the instrument.

Before the interval, Bass and Shao reunited for Fantaisie in A by Camille Saint-Saens, originally written in 1907 for violin and harp before it was arranged for flute/harp duets.

In her introduction of the piece, Bass said: "It really celebrates the instruments and works wonderfully well on the flute."

Elizabeth Bass, originally from Oakham, started playing the harp when she was seven and previously studied under Eleanor Turner.Photo by Tor Hills Photography.
Elizabeth Bass, originally from Oakham, started playing the harp when she was seven and previously studied under Eleanor Turner.Photo by Tor Hills Photography.

The concert's second half started with two of classical music's most familiar names, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Frédéric Chopin, as Bass and Shao played their Andantino from Concerto in C for flute and harp, followed by Variations from Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella) respectively.

But the rest of the concert was made up of less familiar pieces by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz (Torre Bermeja from 12 Piezas Caracteristicas, or Bermeja Tower from 12 Feature Pieces), Argentinian Astor Piazzola (Cafe 1930 from Histoire du Tango) and Andy Scott whose Flute and Harp Sonata brought the audience right up to date, musically speaking.

Speaking after the concert, Bass said: "I find often, with the harp, that I'm bringing it to people who have no idea about it and have never encountered harp repertoire.

Flute player Daniel Shao joined harpist Elizabeth Bass for the first of this season's South Holland Concerts. (20322845)
Flute player Daniel Shao joined harpist Elizabeth Bass for the first of this season's South Holland Concerts. (20322845)

"It's really important to try and show people the range of thing you can tackle and that's just a general thing we want to do with classical music now.

"Andy Scott is a living composer of varied, really exciting music that goes down really well.

"So it was nice to have a variety of styles, some favourites like Mozart and Bach, as well as things that are equally good for two instruments.

Shao said: "Elizabeth and I agreed on the things we both liked, and things we've both done before, as we wanted to feature each other in our best lights."

Review and interview by Winston Brown


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