Saturday 7 July – Barcham House, near Ely
Rounding of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival a month long celebration of arts and cultural events throughout East Cambridgeshire preceded by a Masterclass at 10am, in which children played Beethoven and Chopin among other, more contemporary composers, this was an intimate chance to enjoy the talents of internationally renowned pianist Clare Hammond. And for the children a fabulous boost to their musical development which ranged from studying for Grade 7 exams to more advanced plans for careers in music. Clare shared her insights in the beautiful venue of Barcham House, which is renowned for its fine acoustics.
First up were the children and it was a scene from another era as different generations gathered round in hostess Diana’s lovely drawing room with delightful midmorning summer light (this was before the recent cool and cloudy weather) over a perfect English lawn outside the windows. Clare is clearly wonderful with children and sought to bring out the best in them on a Steinway piano.
After a coffee break, Clare explored a fireworks display in Paris, the story of Petroushka the enchanted puppet from Stravinsky’s ballet, and even a keyboard portrayal of killer bees on the rampage, in her concert and it was very special to witness this (this reviewer was sitting ten feet away!) This was an inspiring event for a decent audience who could take in the amazing creativity and drama of the pieces she played (only one with the music, as she slipped on her glasses!)
Clare Hammond has performed across the world and has been praised for her “unfaltering bravura and conviction”. Music by Mendelssohn, Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, and contemporary British composers Ewan Campbell and Edmund Finnis was sublimely played and it was poignant when after all that drama the dying fall of the notes came to an end. For this reviewer it was the very special nature of the event and the power of Clare’s playing that endures. Those lucky enough to be there (doubtless some had attended Clare’s concert in Ely Cathedral’s south transept the evening before), witnessed something very special. But also her wonderful affinity with the children conveyed also to the adults present via her charming stories.
Clare’s website is at clarehammond.com and you can catch her in February at Stapleford Granary and Kettles Yard in Cambridge.