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Gaia Duo – 15 November 2021

Perth Chamber Music can congratulate itself on having presented three very musically very successful concerts so far this season: most recently in the fine acoustic of St John’s Kirk the Gaia Duo of Katrina Lee, violin and Alice Allen, cello.

Personably introduced they began with Corelli’s Violin Sonata in A Major Op.5 No.9. Katrina Lee’s finely ornamented Largo preceded the infectious playing of the Giga, apparently a Neil Gow favourite. The short Adagio figured more as introduction to the dance-like final Allegro.

Chamber Music Scotland commissioned Sally Beamish’s Stone, Salt and Sky for the Gaia Duo, who premiered it in the Cathedral at the St. Magnus Festival in June 2021. It reflects on the distinctive landscape, music, and history of Orkney. A meeting of classical and folk the first movement, Processional, had Alice Allen officially adding stamping to her repertoire of sounds. Most evocative were the harmonics and thin skein of melody in Horizon. The final Harbour Blues with its running lines and folkish violin was given with total conviction.

Elizabeth Maconchy’s Theme & Variations moved swiftly from the passionate opening to a scurrying variation. In all too short a time we reached the only slightly extended moto perpetuo which acted as finale.

Finally, Rebecca Clarke’s were fine examples of a much neglected composer. The sensitively played Lullaby rose lyrically to a brief climax and ebbed away. Grotesque was hardly that with witty and wonderful sounds, rhythmic games and a humorous glissando from Katarina Lee’s violin calling sustained applause from the Perth audience.

In this they were rewarded by two intriguing finds researched by Gaia amongst music written anonymously by Scottish women composers: a Strathspey & Reel by, after detective work, Lady Stirling of Ardoch. Dunira Lodge having rhythmic snap and, with bows flying at the joy of playing, Perthshire Hunt.