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Music review: Legato


The handsomely refurbished Her Majesty’s Theatre was a fine place for Legato, an evening of music on strings, guitar and piano performed by some of those instruments’ best exponents.

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First up, celebrated and versatile guitarist Slava Grigoryan joined cellist Sharon Grigoryan in duets that showed flair and obvious pleasure on their part.

Languid and evocative guitar playing began Astor Piazzolla’s “Café 1930”, before the cello became more prominent and the pair moved from sweet sorrow to a vibrant folk dance feeling.

Slava’s arrangement of Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel” was a delight; a measured beginning creating a wistful atmosphere that became hypnotic. It is difficult to listen to this minimalist and affecting piece without being beguiled by metaphor, imagining something like a long walk under a starry sky. It’s a work of longing. Scintillating stuff.

Slava and Sharon Grigoryan. Photo: Simon Shiff

When that spell was broken we had Mark Summer’s “Julie-O”, another Grigoryan arrangement, with switches in pace, and the cello alternating deliciously between bowed and pizzicato passages.

Then it was time for the acclaimed Australian String Quartet (Dale Barltrop and Francesca Hiew on violins, Stephen King on viola, and Sharon Grigoryan – in one of her final performances with the quartet – on cello) plus Slava Grigoryan on guitar for “Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet No. 4 in D major, G. 448”. It’s a quintet in only four parts (!) with movements that vary from gentle to complex and haunting, and finishes with an uplifting fandango flourish.

Antonin Dvořák’s “Piano Quintet in A major, B. 155, Opus 81” brought prize-winning pianist Konstantin Shamray on stage with the ASQ. It’s a composition of polarities. The mood is lyrical and melancholy in the first two movements, then accelerates in the scherzo and the allegro finale.

Presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre, Legato highlighted fluidity and skills through an enchanting variety of pieces.

Legato was presented at Her Majesty’s Theatre for one night only as part of the Music @ The Maj series, which concludes on November 25 with A Night of Jazz.

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