The last time I went to the 100 Club on Oxford Street, London, was to introduce my violin teacher to Nicola Benedetti. Yes, she is pretty, yes, she won Young Musician of the Year. I'm not sure what my tutor expected, I've been a fan for a while, seeing her in large and small venues.
Verdict was a definite positive response. In fact, the whole evening was great, Nicola played a whole french programme, wonderfully played and well received by all.
Her support was someone I'd never heard of before; the Sabina Rakcheyeva Ensemble. A blend of jazz and Azerbaijani music I'd never experienced before, but enjoyed a lot.
So, to the November concert by Natalie Clein at the 100 Club.
Natalie played Bach's Prelude in G. A lovely piece which reminded me of her because I heard Schiff's version on the radio, searched for a version, found Schiff's perfect version, and then was pointed in the direction of Natalie. Turns out she studied under Schiff, and it was clear from her own interpretation of the Bach. Then I discovered her recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto.
Natalie and Kodaly. I was never sure about this, having heard very little of the music of Kodaly at all. But what a great introduction. I sat between a cellist (obviously interested in technique etc) a violinist (my tutor) and someone who had never seen classical music performed live. Ever.
I loved the expression that Natalie always puts into her playing, nothing is ever held back, you get 100% every time. I'd read something of the piece, some things were mentioned by Natalie about the sounds of different instruments which pervade the piece. Knowing that Kodaly was a musicologist and incorporated these ideas into his music is one thing, but can they be heard in a solo cello piece? Yes. After hearing the piece played at the 100 Club, you really could hear the drums and zithers. There was a real feeling of the spirit of Hungary in the solo piece, surprisingly you really can hear the rest of the ensemble which isn't present, thanks to Kodaly's writing.
I could, and probably will do later, gush about Natalie's playing. However, I also want to mention the other act who appeared that evening, who shouldn't be ignored. The Sabina Rakcheyeva Ensemble were an interesting mix of people, I suggest you visit their website and listen to the music. http://www.sabinarakcheyeva.com/2010/05/28/sabina-rakcheyeva-ensemble/
There were a number of different elements to the music, Bach's Toccata and Fugue (slowly)mixed with Azerbaijani music, and very well done. Some jazz improvisations were played, but I can't comment, I don't really enjoy or understand jazz, so I won't say anything one way or the other.
Where I thought Sabina and her ensemble stood out, was playing traditional Azerbaijani music, and variations that she and her ensemble had arranged. Four of us came to see Natalie Clein, three musicians, and a confirmed non-musician. We all enjoyed different part of the evening for different reasons. That's the great thing about the Limelight series and the 100 Club in general; pushing the boundaries and making music more accessible.
Oh, and the audience loved Sabina's rendition of (I think) Sari Gelin, as half the audience had come to see Sabina. I'll be looking up some of that music :)