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Masterful concert, masterful musicians

Coast Recital Society
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Jan DeGrass Photo

Rena Sharon, pianist, and Raphael Wallfisch, cellist at their Coast Recital Society concert in Sechelt on Dec. 1.

The strains of Stravinsky’s Suite Italiene launched the Coast Recital Society’s concert last Sunday, Dec. 1.

It was popular music for its time and it proved popular with the full house at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt when British cellist Raphael Wallfisch and Canadian pianist Rena Sharon collaborated on a masterful concert.

This was only the second time they had met to work together, Sharon told the audience who came early for a pre-concert chat.

“We have to find the ways we are resonant with each other,” Sharon said, adding that in this case the collaboration was congenial.

Sharon and Wallfisch went on to explain the difficulties inherent in chamber music. The score is like a blueprint, Sharon said, and it is up to the musicians with their varying opinions as to how to interpret it.

“Give and take is a big part of chamber music,” Wallfisch said.

Both come from musical families. Wallfisch’s father, a pianist, and his mother, a cellist, influenced him. At the age of 16 he went to Italy to study with a master and then to the U.S. to learn from the renowned Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, even performing at an informal concert in the musician’s home along with violinist Jascha Heifetz.

A nervous student, he embarrassed himself before the recital by causing the mat to slip from under his cello and knocking over a lamp.

Wallfisch went on to a brilliant career with an extensive repertoire and performances internationally. He has a love of teaching and explained what he looks for in a young artist. They must have an ear for the sound, he noted, and the right temperament.

Sharon added that it’s hard to make a career out of classical music. If her students have other abilities that could lead to different careers, she needs to hear the strength of their commitment before teaching them music.

The two musicians collaborated on Sonata for Cello and Piano by Claude Debussy, and the result was engaging. Wallfisch soloed on the very technical and complex Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, occasionally using unusual sound embellishments to keep the audience intrigued.

The Coast Recital Society’s next concert is on Jan. 19, featuring the Bergmann Piano Duo. Series information can be found at

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