MCCS – Jennifer Pike

Tuesday 7th November 2023

The Marlborough College Concert Series was delighted to invite yet more ‘world class musicians’ to the Memorial Hall in its third recital of the season, on Sunday 5th November. The stellar line up of Jennifer Pike, Philip Dukes and Jeremy Pike delivered on every expectation and the evening was a dazzling display of professional brilliance. The programme gave us utter gems of the violin repertoire, such as the Beethoven and Grieg whilst also introducing us to much lesser-known works in the Clarke, Boulanger and Pike.

Opening with Rebecca Clarke’s Dumka, both the violin and viola were gloriously matched in tone, superbly intertwining the haunting themes between the performers. The playful folk section was filled with crisp rhythmic drive and real drama as the piece reached its climax. This was followed with a clean and unforced Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, bringing a new freshness to the work, while full of the character and many nuances that his sonatas require. The clarity and elegance from the piano matched the fresh simplicity of the charming violin lines.

Lili Boulanger provided a wonderful display for Jennifer’s poise and delicacy. Sinuous long lines of melody floated above shimmering piano chords, followed by ravishingly rich sounds on the G string. This was followed by the poignant Elegy for Ukraine, written by Jeremy Pike. The tone was appropriately haunting and powerful.

The highlight of the evening was the Grieg Sonata, a quirky piece filled with Norwegian folk influence, illustrated by Jennifer’s demonstration of the Hardangar fiddle in her introduction. Her spirited and charming first movement captured all the drama and exuberant power with virtuosic piano lines executed with flair and charisma. Even in its fiendish last movement, Jennifer displayed utter polish and finesse while conveying the heightened drama and intensity which brings the sonata to a close.

After such a brilliant showcase of artistry, we had one last stunning piece with which to end the evening. Rachmaninov’s Vocalise with its eternal melodic lines stunningly drawn out in haunting magic. This was a truly special evening.

Sara Stagg  
Head of Strings

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