In a return to live events, the all ways reliable afternoon concerts at St David’s Hall would be my first venture out in this new year.
This first outing for me saw Azerbaijan born cellist Jamal Aliyev and Estonian accompanist Maksim Štšura. It annoyed me that the entire programme was completely changed (Chopin, Schumann and Martinů were billed), though a new show of tricks saw pieces I’ve never heard. Turkish inspired music began filled with experimentation and jazz. Though giving of a feeling of let’s try this and that, I found moments particularly enjoyable: the Henry Cowell like manipulations of the piano and perfumed cello lines were highlights.
An arrangement of Paganini’s Variation’s on a theme of Moses in Egypt takes snippets of Rossini’s really heard opera and shows off the violin, or the cello in this instance. Jamal really gets to prove his talents in this piece, the composer usually pushing the fundamentals of performing along with dynamics. No one takes on Paganini lightly, you feel Jamal has taken great care to bring this together in a showcase of both vim and intrigue.
Some slow tango vibes followed in Oblivion from Piazzolla. Pushing the genre to new heights, Piazzolla has the fortune of being accessible and experimental. Whilst this is not his most audacious piece, I found some joy in this brief outing, evocative of the tango genre it calls back to. Wrapping with up with a work by cellist composer David Popper also gave Jamal more chances to shine. He doesn’t really need to play anything special to prove his talents. Maksim on piano also being a highly watchable, refined pianist, who joins Jamal in this almost hour of fine music making.