A sunny Bank Holiday Sunday morning seemed wrong for a cello coffee concert. Christ Chuirch Cathedral was cool and welcoming but the crystal chanceliers were alight and there wasn’t a programme of music. The leaflet said Gerald will announce his programme of music throughout the concert. More second thoughts, so I sat within six rows of the performer – Gerald Peregrine – who sat at floor level with his piano accompanist.
He opened with a familiar passage of a Bach prelude. Grey suit, white shirt, purple tie, fashionable bleached spiked hair. He smiled and spoke and I could only hear snatches of words as he moved into songs. People – people who need people… are the luckiest people in the world. The cello filled the space letting the inside out, liberating a sadness – hide all the need inside.
This was exquisite virtuoso playing, an emotional experience. Moving into Sondheim’s Clowns – send in the clowns, there was a wonderful sense of lingering magic as notes hung in the vaulted yellow space. The ache of the cello – isn’t it rich, send in the clowns – your head filled with words – ersatz sadness of some musicals – words carry the notes – don’t bother they’re here. Sorry my dear, like and aerialist suspended – me in mid air, a blissful sweet sickly feeling.
A Faure piece filled the space and the cello opened a sad vein in a thought – why would I want to feel sad on a sunny Sunday morning? Where was Bobby McGee? A bluesy piano slipped into Mood Indigo as the cello segued into Love Me Tender and I was suffused with love – lever let me go… you have made my life so sweet, love me tender, oh my darling I love you, and I always will.
I just closed my eyes and got mellow as a Jack Jones song crooned into Autumn Leaves. The falling leaves drift by my window, the days grow longer (should it be shorter?). This was the reverie of the trendy Silver Surfer.
A piano interlude was a beautiful surprise. A John Lewis piece, Django (a tribute to European jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who died in the fifties). This was beautiful memories of the Modern Jazz Quartet and Miles Davis – Birth Of The Cool.
While it didn’t seem like a programme for the day that was in it, or what I expected, I got Summer kisses, emotions as ersatz’s pop, as corny as crooning, as fickle as funny valentine. Hide all the need for sadness – enjoy the day – and let the summer sing and warm by bones.
Another Bach piece as balmy breezes blow, a cello can take a sad song and make it sadder before a De Falla Firebird swept me up into a glory of sun-warmed cello filling the place, filling my heart with such a treat.
Gerald Peregrine is world class and is the son of violinist Sheila O’Grady and nephew of the late great tenor, Frank Patterson. He is a founding member of Ensemble Avalon, with Ioana Petcu Colan and pianist Michael McHale.
I first heard Gerald peregrine at an Artswave event in St. David’s Cathedral in Wales and I knew then I was in the presence of cello greatness. His first commercial cd is called Heavenly. Google him and realise what you missed on a sunny Sunday morning.