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Trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth and pianist Kathryn Stott took to the Lancaster Great Hall stage on Thursday 21st March for a well-received duet.
Even though there are no lyrics in her music, Helseth says that she likes to tell a story through her instrument. As sceptical as one might be about this claim beforehand, it was hard to deny that there was a definite narrative throughout some of the pieces as they progressed. A perfect example of this was “Helical Strake,” a piece composed by Graham Fitkin specifically for Helseth and Stott, which contains dramatic shifts in style as the mood changes. The piece is such a test of stamina for both musicians (who need to be perfectly synchronised for its entire eleven-minute duration) that they hugged each other afterwards when they had gotten through it!
It’s incredibly hard to play a trumpet for two hours without making a “mistake”, but as someone with four successful albums on Amazon, Helseth’s near-flawless performance was almost to be expected. She showcased her ability to perform just about every difficult trumpet technique throughout the evening, with a wide range in dynamics, tempo and articulation. One thing that was noticeable was that sometimes during quieter sections, the air being blown through the instrument overpowered the note itself, creating a slightly crackly sound, although this may have been due to the acoustics of the room. This reporter is not a pianist, but as far as I am concerned, Stott did not put a foot (or finger) wrong.
However musically capable they are, it is very difficult for a trumpeter and pianist to maintain the full attention of an audience for such a long period of time, but somehow they managed it. Stott’s energy seemed to project itself around the room. Her arm movements were extremely elaborate, sometimes verging on wild, (whilst remaining completely focused throughout) and she managed to make playing the piano visually entertaining. Helseth is nice to look at (and carries an extremely shiny trumpet), but she also put on a performance. She showed how much she was enjoying herself with some energetic movements, and even entered the second half whilst playing from the back of the hall. A little self-indulgent perhaps, but making the evening more engaging nonetheless.
It was possibly these displays of enthusiasm from the performers that reciprocated an equal level of enthusiasm from the audience, resulting in not one, but two curtain calls. Even the piano music page-turner got an applause… an enjoyable evening all round!