French repertoire expertly performed by fine musicians

This week's Wednesday lunchtime concert at Marama Hall featured a short recital of French repertoire, presented by a trio of this country's finest musicians.

Cellist Heleen du Plessis and pianist Terence Dennis opened with a bracket of four short works by renowned French composers.

An absolutely exquisite performance of the popular Sicilienne by Faure was followed by Reverie (Debussy), Romance Op 36 (Saint-Saens) and Serenade (Poulenc).

These pieces accentuated this particular cellist's gift for expressing and shaping the lyricism and melodic line of music with great passion and emotion, and her interpretation was mirrored by the accompanist.

International Dunedin-based soprano Anna Leese (accompanied by Dennis) presented a Poulenc song-cycle entitled Fiancailles pour rire (The Whimsical Bethrothal).

In 1939 Francis Poulenc set the text of six poems by his good friend French novelist Marie Louise Leveque de Vilmorin, and is quoted as saying ``I found in her poetry a kind of sensitive audacity''.

The translation in the programme allowed for full appreciation of her often droll yet thought-provoking, arresting style of writing, which Leese interpreted with subtle wit and sincerity.

Her strong, resonant voice was wonderfully controlled, seemingly effortless, and capable of such variety of nuance and rapport.

The recital finished with a stunning performance of Canteloube from Songs of the Auvergne.

The orchestral colour from the Steinway, enhanced through Dennis' astute arrangement of the piano transcription, thrilled the very large audience who had taken the opportunity to hear such top-shelf classical musicians in the lunch-break.

-By Elizabeth Bouman

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