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Jessica Yap Foundation recital 'Fantastic!'

Published:Tuesday | March 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Jessica Yap plays the violin during the Jessica Yap Pass It On Scholarship Foundation's presentation of The Cole/Robertson Trio in concert at the University of the West Indies Chapel on Sunday. - photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Carol Cole (left) strums a presentation violin while her husband David Cole does the same on the cello during The Jessica Yap Pass It On Scholarship Foundation's presentation of The Cole/Robertson Trio in concert at the University of the West Indies Chapel, Mona, on Sunday evening. The third member of the trio, Jon Robertson (centre), displays masterful finger work on the piano.

Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer

"Fantastic!" was the epithet used by Mary, a well-known piano teacher, to describe Sunday's recital by the Cole/Robertson trio at the University Chapel, Mona. Of the playing by the Jamaica-born pianist, Jon Robertson, Mary declared: "He has the best finger work I've heard for a long time."

Mary was not alone in her enthusiasm for the trio's performance of compositions by Mozart, Turina and Felix Mendelssohn. At the end of the recital, there was a standing ovation by the large audience.

Even the first item of music heard for the evening, Jamaica's national anthem, was superbly played. On piano was the Edna Manley College's School of Music head, Roger Williams, while the talented Jessica Yap played her favourite instrument, the violin.

Yap, now a first-year medical student at the University of the West Indies, told the audience that as she got a scholarship to attend the university, she thought it a good idea to "pass on" her benefit by establishing a Pass It On Scholarship Foundation to assist other medical students. Sunday's recital, she said, was to be the first of a number of fund-raising functions for the foundation.

"We strive to build a better Jamaica," she said, "and the foundation is a very direct way to give back to my country."

Yap then introduced medical student Rouaj Shirley as the first recipient of the foundation's funds.

In her public statement, she also said that attending medical school was a "large part" of her life. Later, she expanded on the idea when she told The Gleaner she intended to continue musical studies even while pursuing medical ones.

After a welcome by UWI Vice-chancellor Nigel Harris, the audience heard from Robertson that he left Jamaica when he was very young. Introducing the initial musical item, he said that the Piano Trio in B flat, K. 502 was "one of the most beautiful of Mozart's trios".

Beautiful, superbly played

Not only was the composition (which was divided into the movements Allegro, Larghetto and Allegretto) beautiful, but it was superbly played by Robertson (piano), Carol Cole (violin) and her husband, David Cole (cello).

The tonal quality of the instruments, separately and collectively, was exquisite and their power was such that, as a number of people remarked, at times the trio sounded like a full orchestra.

The programme notes state that the K. 502 trio and Mozart's K. 542 in E Major are among the composer's best work and "debates about which is better aside, both piano trios can be considered virtually perfect chamber music in every sense of the word." Enthusiastic applause greeted the final climactic notes of the approximately 20-minute piece.

Joaquin Turina's work, Curculo: Fantasia for piano, violin and cello, Op 91, was composed in 1936, before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, some 150 years after Mozart's trios. Not surprisingly, then, it has a much more modern feel.

The printed programme mentions the composer's "penchant for cyclical forms," and the performed piece is a manifestation of that fondness. Its three movements are Amanecer (Sunrise) Melodía (Midday) and Crepúsculo (Sunset).

Introducing the composition

In introducing the composition, Carol Cole invited the audience to imagine, as the music played, Spanish life of 100 years ago at the different times of day indicated by the movements. And the three instruments did, indeed, paint a musical picture of different moods of the day. There were soft, slow-paced notes at both the beginning and end of the piece and stronger, faster ones depicting the business of the period in between.

David Cole, who said that he and his wife fell in love with Jamaica when they came, termed sections of the Mendelssohn composition about to be played, Piano Trio No 2 in C minor, Op 66 as "very dramatic and dark." He added that the ending was "a joyful expression of life".

The work certainly has much variety, as is shown by its four movements: Allegro energico e con fuoco, Andante espressivio, Scherzo (Molto allegro quasi presto) and Finale (Allegro appassionato). There is passion and intensity, placidity and lyrical melody, with each of the instruments conveying the moods and emotions in its own unique, dynamic way.

Throughout all the pieces, the musicians showed they were professionals of the highest order - and that they were well rehearsed. Each performer had an extensive biography in the printed programme, from which one learnt that Carol Cole is now a professor of violin and chamber music at Lynn University's Conservatory of Music, Boca Raton, Florida; that David Cole is department head of strings in the same conservatory; and that Robertson is currently dean of the conservatory.

Williams invited musicians in the audience to a workshop which the Cole/Robertson Trio would be having at the School of Music on Monday.