We’d bought our tickets, nearly two
hundred of us, we packed the pews and we were eager to learn
what would happen in the hour and a half or so before we would
toddle up the hill for the wine and cheese.
Enter, a dark-haired lady in slinky
black with pink bows (and lipstick to match) and a fair-haired
chunky chap, she with a violin, he with an accordion, both
with wide smiles: Sarah Harrison and Igor Outkin.
To begin – a creamy Viennese bonbon
by Kreisler and a song by Rachmaninov from our accordionist,
his tenor voice plangent and coloured to perfection for Russian
romance and melancholy. That was me won over.
We moved on through Mozart and Vivaldi and
an aria from ‘Rigoletto’ to virtuoso finger work
from both artistes in the Gypsy airs (Zigeunerweisen) of Sarasate
and Khatchaturian’s Sabre dance - we were breathless.
Harrison and Outkin had simply got their breath
for Part 2.
Rimsky’s Bumble Bee got that launched.
An Italian song and a smiling personal declaration of affection
between Igor and Sarah in “Be My Love” (echoes
of Mario Lanza effectively smothered) followed and then, almost
before we knew it, we were into twenty minutes of swaying
and swinging tunes from the Hot Club de France. An accordion
as brilliant as a band, a violin that could double as a jazzy
banjo – we were floating, and we floated on, then and
us, through old Russian folk music and Monti’s famous
Czardas into a generous encore of the liveliest ‘Kalinka’
you could wish for.
It was good that the Mazaika
duo joined us at the wine and cheese reception. They charmed
us anew and I must offer their thanks and ours too, to Pauline
Rimer, Margaret Moran and Anne Montgomery for hospitality
and preparation of the enjoyable post-concert party.
Two days on everyone is still enthusing. And I’m still
shimmying. Must be the gypsy in me.