10th December 2000

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Gentle sensuality flares into storm of emotion

The European Union Chamber Orchestra Concert- Bishop's College Auditorium, November 27.

Programme - Rondo for violin and strings - Schubert Nocturne from Shylock - Faure; Tablesque - de Silva; Christmas Concerts - Corelli; Andante Cantabile - Tchaikovsky; Divertimento K, 138 - Mozart.

Magnificent music flooded the Bishop's College Auditorium that evening. Directed by the distinguished Danish virtuoso violinist, Lavard Skou Larsen, a musical genius with a worldwide reputation, it worked on an alchemy of eye-contact and a mysterious communication between director and orchestra.

A varied repertoire of music from the 17th to the 20th century brought the audience an enriching interpretation of the European musical heritage, by this famous group.

Sri Lankan composer Lalanath de Silva, the conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka had the premiere of his Tablesque on this occasion. It was played with an eastern resonance by the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

The strings brought to life the rhythm and melody written for the tabla, a pair of drums used in Indian classical music.

This was a cultural exchange and a gracious acceptance of tributes by both the European Union Chamber Orchestra and the Sri Lankan composer.

The concert's opening Rondo for violin and strings by Schubert was enhanced by the ornamentation of the theme by Larsen's violin and the sparkling music of the accompaniment. 

Faure's Nocturne from Shylock was sensuous and poetic, with the strings a droning ripple as the repetitive lyrical phrase soared above them.

Italian composer Corelli's Christmas Concerto, with its accent on the final slow movement of the pastorale, preceded Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile in G major.

The gentle mood of the latter flared into a storm of emotions before returning to its slow theme.

And so to the finale: Mozart's Divertiment K 138 in F major, its texture light and entertaining with pauses for contemplation.

The European Union Chamber Orchestra brought us a feast of music and a new stimulus to the understanding and appreciation of the classical European musical tradition. 

-Alfreda de Silva

Enthralling sounds of joy and heartbreak

By Alfreda de Silva

Gayathrie Peiris, the internationally reputed soprano based in London, made the Russian Centre resound with the beauty of her voice. Her accompanist was her husband, the well-known William Patrick. 

Opening with Bel Raggio Lusinghier from Rossini's Semiramide, her tonal lucidity reflected her happiness and the hope of what the return of her beloved Alsace would bring to her stormy life. 

Faure, Liszt, Brahms and R. Strauss arias followed, their musicality and range of emotions exquisitely rendered and contrasted by Gayathrie to keep the audience enthralled. 

Faure's Le Papillon et La Fleur was the tale of the butterfly, and the flower that was envious of its gift of flight, quite forgetting her own Godgiven gift of beauty. Like the creatures of the human world she wished to be what she was not. 

Liszt's joyous gift of love Oh ! Quand Je Dors was followed by Brahms' Liebestreu featuring a child's love for its mother; and this part of the programme concluded with the Richard Strauss Zueignung, a song of gratitude for the purification of a soul. 

Billed next on this programme which gave a special place to new young Sri Lankan talent was 17-year-old Dhilan Gnanadurai, a singer, pianist and violinist. 

His much appreciated contributions were Se Vuol Ballare from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro; Schubert's Der Lindenbaum; and the popular Santa Lucia. 

Gayathrie returned to the expectant audience with Tosti's Ideale, a plea for the coming home of the idol, with fresh inspiration for a new day; and Leoncavallos La Mathinata extolling the lyrical beauty of nature at the break of day. In the delightful duets presented by Gayathrie and the Australian-born Colaratura soprano Clare Mance, we had Offenbach's Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman and the Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes. 

Gayathrie followed with two musical gems, Puccini's Quando M'en Vo from La Boheme, a skittish song full of verve; and Donizettie's OLuce Di Quest' anima from Linda Di Chamounix. 

19-year-old Tharanga Goonetilleke, an award-winning soprano and past student of Ladies' College, who had trained under Christine Perera and sung with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka was featured next. 

The true clear notes of her voice focused eloquently on O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's Gianni Schichchi ! Grieg's Solveig's Song and V. Herbert's Art is calling for me. Gayathrie Peiris and Clare Mance took the programme on a spiritual journey of both resonant and muted colours, with Ombra Mai Fu from Handel's Xerexes; Mozart's enduring Ave Verum Corpus; and the haunting Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck. 

The evening belonged to Gayathrie, as she held the progamme together with the artistry of an established performer. Appealingly and vivaciously sung was Massenet's Il est doux, Il est bon from Herodiade in which Salome declares her adoration for John the Baptist. 

Mozart's heart-breaking Porgi Amor from Le Nozze Di Figaro and the equally tragic Why did you kiss my heart awake ? from Lehar's Frederica were followed by the nostalgic Czardas from Die Fledermaus by J. Strauss. A glorious rendering of the S. Adams composition Holy City concluded Gayathrie's last set of songs. 

The finale was A Perfect Day, sung in unison by all the participants, including the baritone Nimantha de Alwis.

Piano accompanists were the versatile and accomplished Soundarie David and William Patrick hailed for his expertise in the Opera establishment. The flutist was Isabal Renker and the violinist Dhilhan Gnanadurai .

Gyathrie's lively and enthusiastically received encore was Can't help loving that man. 

The entire proceeds of the concert amounting to a lakh and sixty thousand rupees which included a donation from someone who wished to remain anonymous, were gifted to the disabled ex-service personnel of Sri Lanka. 

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