Rochdale News | News headlines | Rochdale Music Society Concert – Le Meraki Duo

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Date published: October 19, 2021


A full audience at Touchstones on Saturday, October 9, overwhelmingly reassured Rochdale Music Society administrators that their resumption of concerts after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted had been eagerly awaited by subscribers and the public. It is good to note that the range of musical styles and performances offered year after year by the company since its inception in 1980 is still appreciated.

This first concert in the 2021 – 2022 concert series was held in the downtown Rochdale Hall, with the Heywood Civic Center not yet available to the company (2022 concerts are scheduled in Heywood). It featured flautist Meera Maharaj and guitarist James Girling. “Meraki” comes from Japanese and means “from the heart and the depth of the soul”.

While the acoustics of the Touchstones weren’t ideal, they served the Meraki Duo well enough to deliver an evening of delightfully varied music in a well-planned program, which everyone obviously enjoyed. Applause was unanimous at the end of each element, the first of which was Sonatina for violin and piano op. 100 by Dvorak. arranged for flute and guitar by Andrew Massey. Not the “New World” symphony, but written in America around the same time, it’s a work exhibiting the same conflicting emotions of feeling exiled but at home that makes it so appealing. The flute may not have the same warmth of tone as the violin, but it can be just as powerful when needed and deliver soaring melodies with passion and depth of feeling, as in this performance. Likewise, the guitar can be seen as not being able to match the tone and power of the modern concert piano, but with the technical prowess of a performer like James Girling, it can provide no less comprehensive accompaniment and convincing. “Arrangements” don’t always work, but this one did it wonderfully.

Meera Maharaj then performed two complementary dance pieces for solo flute, a German Bach and a Gavotte by William Alwyn, both finely refined performances. James Girling followed up with two Bagatelles for solo guitar by William Walton, which beautifully demonstrated the wide range of melodic and harmonic resources available to an accomplished acoustic guitar performer like himself.

The first half of the concert ended with the duo giving a polished account of an arrangement of the melancholy song, Beau Soir, by Debussy.

In the second half, audiences were transported to South America for revealing interpretations of colorful and adventurous music from the 20th and 21st centuries of this continent, starting with three of Tangos from the History of Tango by Argentine guitarist and composer Astor. Piazzolla. , of which it is the year of the 100th anniversary. Flute and guitar danced together with just the right amount of tender, passionate romance that this music shows developing over a span of a hundred years.

The last three works of the concert featured music by contemporary Brazilian composers, which undoubtedly opened the ears and minds of the audience who, like me, are not familiar with all the technical explorations and achievements of classical guitarists from the latter. years. Rafael Marino Arcaro is a young composer whose Suite in 4 movements for flute and guitar, written for the Meraki Duo in 2020, and entitled A Norte, Rio Preto – ‘North of Rio Preto’ – places enormous demands on both instrumentalists. It is a musical embodiment of the nature of the Brazilian rainforest and its indigenous peoples, of wild tenderness and rugged beauty, calling for extreme treatment of the instruments involved. Would you believe the extraordinary sounds that a flute or a guitar can make, and in such rapid succession? No wonder this performance was greeted with gasps of amazement and enthusiastic approval.

The planned concert ended with a breathtaking account of the Quarteto Novo’s Misturada. Then, as an even more cathartic encore, the duo returned to play music from the film score of Black Orpheus.

The Rochdale Music Society’s next concert will take place at St. Chad’s Parish Church, Sparrow Hill, on Saturday, November 27, when Georgian pianistic genius Luka Okros returns to Rochdale at the request of the public and will include Nocturnes and Ballads by Chopin in what promises to be a program to remember. All the details on the site www.rochdalemusicsociety.org.

Graham Marshall


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