| Mar 28, 2018

Twenty eight years ago, when we moved to the area, if anyone had told me that I’d be sitting in the old Catholic Church in Sharbot Lake, eating croissants and sipping cappuccino while enjoying a concert of Baroque, Irish, Bulgarian and Argentinian music played on violin and guitar, I would not have believed them. And yet that is exactly what happened last Tuesday evening, March 20, when violinist, Edwin Huizinga and guitarist, William Coulter played to an appreciative audience at the Cardinal Cafe in Sharbot Lake. The house had been sold out for some time as many of us had had the opportunity of hearing Edwin Huizinga two years ago when he played a concert of Baroque music, in the same venue, with harpsichordist, Phillip Fournier.

There was an excitement in the air as Huizinga and Coulter began to play their arrangement of the Prelude from Cello Suite #1 by J.S. Bach. This piece really seems to travel. It made me feel like I was on a train, imagining all of the panoramic views I was passing. The guitar and violin sounded so right together. The sound was rich and warm and masterful, with just the right balance of each. The next set was a Celtic one inspired by Irish composer, Bill Whelan’s Riverdance. They played Riverdance Jig, Excerpt from Corona, a beautiful and haunting slow air which seemed to defy time and space, followed by Chronus and Reel around the Sun.

The third piece was called the Liquid Gold Suite. This set evolved from Coulter’s guitar arrangement of Schumann’s piano accompaniment to Bach’s Partita #2 for solo violin. Huizinga and Coulter, then paired this Baroque dance music with traditional and newer Irish music. In all, there were 8 parts to this suite, each Bach part being followed by an Irish tune. These pieces fit together beautifully. Each one giving context to the next and receiving it from the previous one seamlessly.

Perhaps the most enticing music played by the duo were the three Bulgarian tunes, two Kopanistas (dances), and Polognala e Todora. These were so different from anything that this rural Ontario ear is used to hearing. Very much Middle Eastern in sound, Huizinga and Coulter brought these pieces to life. The two lively Kopanistas (dances) book-ended a much quieter, yet quite moving slower piece, Pologna e Todora, where the guitar began the tune, then the violin took precedence. So ephemeral, it sounded almost like a plaintive whistle or human voice as the guitar kept the beat all along and then brought the tune to its quiet conclusion.

There was an original solo guitar instrumental, written by Coulter for his brother as a wedding gift, inspired by the natural beauty of the sea and the Irish landscape where the wedding took place. This was followed by Summer from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Huizinga set up the three movements for the audience, invoking the imagery of a very hot summer day in Italy. In the first movement, we were to imagine that all of the birds were coming out, and to listen especially for the cuckoos. In the second, we were to think of the guitar personifying the many annoying bugs at night, while the violin would represent the sleeping camper. Finally in the third movement, we were to imagine all of the wonder of summer storms. Many in the audience had eyes closed as they listened and were transported by these pieces.

Despite all of the beauty in each of the earlier pieces, this duo saved some of it for their encore. After a standing ovation from the house, the concert ended with Oblivion, tango music from bandoneon master and composer, Astor Piazzolla. I have never heard the high notes on the E string of a violin sound so sweet, as Edwin Huizinga made them sound on this tango. It was as much lullabye as tango and it took us into the sublime.

A fitting ending to this concert.

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