May Halyburton (double bass) and Jane Colvin (cello) are Opus Duo. They are based in Edinburgh but have performed throughout Scotland, and also provide educational workshops for children and adults. This afternoon they present their repertoire to an audience of young and old.
The Attic in the Tolbooth is brightly lit through ceiling skylights. The radiant, matching, long dresses of Halyburton and Colvin – one red, one blue – suggest harmony and add a cheerful splash of colour to the stageless room when Opus Duo enter with their instruments. Double bass and cello are positioned behind the large sheets of music and away they go.
They greet the audience with the Petit Scherzo by Charles Gounod which gets the recital off to a lighthearted start and immediately engages the listener.
The two accomplished musicians alternately introduce each piece, giving background information on the composer and/or the musical composition. Reading this off a sheet at times and keeping it very factual unfortunately interrupts the flow of the performance a little. There is a touch of the educational.
However, the repertoire is interesting and enchanting. A mix of the historic and the contemporary, of the blitheful and the thoughtful. The first half of the concert goes by in a flash and is well received by an attentive audience. In a solo presentation of a rondo by Franz Keyper, Halyburton explores the sounds of the double bass adeptly.
The second half continues with a short duet by Elgar and on to operatic sounds by Rossini. It travels via some less well known pieces to an adagio, rondo, finale by Domenico Dragonetti. The instruments are beautifully played and communicate as well as the conferring looks of the musicians in this intimate setting. Colvin plays her cello with a gentle grace that is reflected in her facial expressions and body language and matches the sounds she entices from her instrument.
Occasionally, the pigeons on the roof of the building accompany the performance, and overall, it’s a very enjoyable afternoon featuring an assorted repertoire of skilfully delivered musical compositions.