Any music-lover living within reach of Eastbourne’s Under Ground Theatre will not easily forget the week-end of March 18th to 19th. How many other towns of comparable size can offer such varied musical fare in such a delightful environment?
On Saturday morning, in the welcoming auditorium beneath the town’s main library, there was an entertaining presentation of French Chanson. There was no charge for entry, and prices in the cafeteria were commendably reasonable. By “chanson” the French mean “popular song” such as one might find in a dimly-lit bar. It should not be likened to German “lieder” which the French call “mélodie”.
The performers at the UGT were the real thing. First, André Nicolas, visiting a friend in Eastbourne, was to be heard singing and playing his saxophones with true Gallic allure. After the interval a young singer calling herself Fleur de Paris (she is French, but lives locally) was accompanied by a superb accordionist. Her beautiful voice displayed technical control of a high order, allied to a thoroughly French presentation.
Sunday afternoon, it was back to the Under Ground Theatre again, with the wonderful violin and piano Duo, Eleanor Percy and Irina Lyakhovskaya. They were superb in Schumann’s Opus 105 A minor Sonata, in Poulenc’s Sonata, and in Brahms’s Sonata No.1 in G Major, opus 78.
Their final surprise was an arrangement by Heifetz of songs from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
Now well-known as recording artists on the Melodiya label in Russia, Eleanor and Irina still bring their magic to the small theatre which they have been visiting for many years. Long may their visits as a Duo continue. And lovers of Beethoven’s piano music can hear Irina again on April 30th at 2.45 p.m., continuing her fine performances of all thirty-two of his Sonatas. By Robin Gregory.