Ensemble

From the Poignant to the Zany

Russian-born musicians
Yulia Northridge and Ekaterina Shetliffe,
heard by MIKE WHEELER

 

Yulia Northridge and Ekaterina Shetliffe are Russian-born musicians who have settled in the UK, and who often play as a violin-and-piano duo. Their Derby Cathedral lunchtime concert - Derby UK, 24 May 2019 - took in a remarkably wide expressive range, from the poignant to the zany.

The main theme from John Williams' score for the film Schindler's List got a reading all the more moving for its gentle restraint. Schnittke's sardonic, satirical Polka, originally from incidental music for a planned staging of a story by Gogol, was the most complete contrast imaginable.

In Zigeunerweisen, Pablo de Sarasate threw every trick in his book at the genre of the virtuoso Hungarian gypsy rhapsody. Launching her account of the violin part from her gutsy, open-throated bottom string, Northridge went on to make Sarasate's written-out flourishes sound genuinely off-the-cuff, with Shetliffe providing driving energy for the faster sections from the piano. Though Northridge experienced one or two moments of dubious intonation, it was an entertainingly fresh account of a familiar showpiece.

Yulia Northridge, violin, left and Ekaterina Shetliffe, piano
Yulia Northridge, violin, left and Ekaterina Shetliffe, piano

Rachmaninov may have called his Op 6 Two Salon Pieces, but No 1, at least, is more profoundly expressive than that. In a performance of restrained inwardness, it echoed the John Williams we started with. In the Waltz from Khachaturian's music for Lermontov's play Masquerade, Northridge and Shetliffe suggested the emotional tensions behind the exuberance. These came to a head in 'Montagues and Capulets', from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, in a reading that captured the darkness and menace at the start, and made something ethereally disembodied of the middle section.

Finally, it was loony tune time. The Hot Canary, by popular 1940s American violinist Paul Nero, in a version by another, Florian Zabach, was the perfect, delightfully silly, note to end on.

Copyright © 3 June 2019 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK

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