Jonathan Paget (guitar)/ Stewart Smith (piano)
The Grove Library, Peppermint Grove
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Billed as a program of music from the age of Jane Austen, two leading Perth musicians took an attentive audience on a journey back in time. Jonathan Paget played a Bauer guitar manufactured around 1840 in Vienna – and Stewart Smith was at the keyboard of a Clementi square piano built in London around 1830.
This was fascinating fare.
Dutch composer Karel Craeyvanger’s Introduction and Variations on a Theme from Weber’s Der Freischutz was played as if to the manner born by Paget. Blissfully free of the creaks, squeaks and clanks that bedevil the playing of so many guitarists, we were here able to savour the work as it unfolded – beautifully. I particularly admired the pianissimi which Paget conjured from the instrument – and the library’s pleasing acoustics came up trumps, too.
Fernando Sor’s Sonata No 1 was no less satisfying. Here, Paget gave us a most expressive interpretation with stylistically impeccable rubato.
Hummel’s tongue-in-cheek Pot-Pourri with its gentle obeisance to composers from Paisiello and Mozart to Spontini and Gretry was a highlight of the afternoon.
In Carulli’s Petit Concerto opus 140, both musicians succeeded, admirably, in revealing the gentle, intimate nature of much of the writing with ensemble throughout a model of refinement. There was also a piano solo: Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Here, subtle rubato transformed this oh-so-familiar miniature into a listening experience of high order. Bravo!
Not the least of the pleasures of this presentation was the fine balance of tone between the two instruments. Each has a gentle voice. Together, their tonal manners were impeccable.